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General => Rants and Stuff => Topic started by: Armadius on January 17, 2007, 11:58:12 PM

Title: Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 17, 2007, 11:58:12 PM
I've got a couple questions. First, would you say your religion influences how you portray religions in your novels? I have a friend who remarked after reading Elantris that there seemed to be a parallel between Sku-Keseg, Shu-Korath, and Shu-Dereth and the real world. Did you model these religions after anything in the real world?

Second (and feel free not to answer), I noticed in your religion rant that you said you'd be happy to explain at length why you think the Mormon church is "right". I'm always interested when people try to back up their religious leanings, so please, go ahead. Why do you think Mormonism is correct?
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Spriggan on January 18, 2007, 12:06:31 AM
Wow, you're about to get an earful considering over half this forum are Mormons, a religion known for people who like to expout on why we believe the way we do.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 18, 2007, 12:17:03 AM
Fine by me.  I like arguing ^_^
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Skar on January 18, 2007, 12:35:44 AM
Actually EUOL is not "Mormon".  That was a mistype.  He actually follows the precepts of "Moron."

As such he looks for every opportunity to heap abuse on those he considers less intellectually astute than he is.  He's a lot like Terry Goodkind in this respect.

Beware, be very very ware.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: EUOL on January 18, 2007, 12:46:25 AM
Armadius,

Happy to answer.  First off, no, I didn't base any of the religions in Elantris on any real religions.  Shu-Dereth STARTED as the Norse religion when I was worldbuilding.  I wanted to take a Norse-style religious feel, then transform it into monotheism over time.  However, there wasn't a strict parallel with modern religion.  The basis for how all three religions ended up was more Eastern in concept, but again, I didn't use a single religion to focus any of them.

I did take a few things from other religions.  For instance, I liked how a lot of modern religions sprang from the same root.  Buddhism came from Hinduism, and Christianity was a growth from Judaism.  The aggressive Derethi religion was a little bit more like religions that have a convert or die philosophy--but, from my research, that concept has been used in pretty much every major religion at one point and time. 

I do worry that people will see Derethi and think of a specific religion.  Indeed, since I based Hrathen on what I saw as 'Evil missionary tactics' one could easily relate him to churches that do send out missionaries.  This wasn't my intention, however.   

As for the second question, I'm always happy to give my reasons.  Realize, however, that I'm not a big fan of religious argument.  I don't think you can prove religion.  Arguing Bible scriptures doesn't really do anything productive, in my experience.

I believe in Mormonism for three general reasons.  1) Experience.  2) Logic.  3) Feelings.

I think it would be best to cover these each in their own post, to break things up a bit.  (Oh, and I see other posts have been made while I was writing this.  Yes, a lot of people here are my friends from school, and a lot of us are LDS.  But, here's my post.  Also, Skar is joking.  I hope you realized that.  Also, I really hope this doesn't get into an argument.)
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: EUOL on January 18, 2007, 12:46:53 AM
Experience.
One of the basic things that Jesus taught--and I hold that this is true, no matter what you think of Christ's divinity--is that by the fruits of a teaching, you can know if it is good or bad.  This is sometimes a hard one to adjudicate.  Is Islam a bad religion because so many people are taking it and perverting it?  I don't think that's what this doctrine means.  I believe it was intended on a much more personal basis.  Anything--no matter how good--can be twisted and used for ill.

In my life, many of my most profound experiences--many of my greatest joys--come because of things I've done involving my religion, and because of its teachings.  The teachings on family have caused my family to be closer.  The teachings on marriage have caused me to seek out a wife, and that has brought me a great deal of joy.  The teachings on what it takes to live a good life are things I have tested, and found comforting and true. 

In short, I find that I'm happier when I do things the religion teaches.  This isn't exactly a scientific proof, but I accept it.

--Edit-- Fixed some typos.  Meant "Hard" up above instead of "Good" in the first paragraph.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: EUOL on January 18, 2007, 12:47:42 AM
2)  Logic.

I don't like to talk ill about other religions.  To be honest, there are wonderful things in each and every religion I've studied--and, as a writer, I like to read about religions and learn about their teachings.  Also, as I said above, I don't think you can prove religion with arguments.  Only God can prove whether a religion is true or not.

However, there are some things, logically, about Mormonism that just make SENSE to me.  I served a mission for the Church, and during that mission, I taught about what I believed.  There were several questions that people would ask that I haven't found sufficient answers to in any other Christian religion.  Two of the biggest of these were:

1)  How can you believe in God when there is so much suffering in the world.
2)  What about all the people who aren't of your religion?  They go to hell because they happened to live at the wrong time, when there were no missionaries to teach them?

Question One:
LDS teachings focus on this world being a planned event.  It teaches that before we were born, we lived as spirits, and were involved in the production of this world.  We chose to come to this planet because we desired the experience of living on our own, having mortal bodies, and being apart from God for a time.  We believe that when we lived before, we couldn't really experience pain, or fear, or any of those things--not as long as God was there with us.  We believe that only by having this Earth experience could we become complete, gaining experiences that we couldn't have gained in any other way. 

So, the core teaching here is that we came to the Earth by choice.  We decided that we would come down here and experience pain.  I personally believe that we were shown what our life would be like, and given options deciding just what kind of life we wanted to live.  That's not strict doctrine, but it IS strict doctrine that we were allowed to decide for ourselves if we wanted to experience pain and suffering--in order to learn and grow--or if we didn't want to.

Another big part of LDS doctrine is the concept of free will.  We believe that God HAD to let us make our own decisions here, otherwise the whole thing would be for naught.

This doesn't excuse people who do terrible things to others.  It simply means that we agreed to take the chance, and that we accepted the risk of the things that would happen here.  It means that God watches in pain as we are put in pain, but has bound himself.  He can't stop people like Hitler from existing, otherwise the whole thing would be meaningless.  A starving child in Africa is a terrible, terrible thing--and I believe that we are responsible for doing all we can to alleviate suffering.  However, the reason they can exist is not because God is punishing them, but because the world must exist this way--and because we all made the decision that we'd RATHER end up as a starving child in Africa than miss out on the opportunity to experience life.


Question Two:

LDS doctrine is one of the only world religion which includes serious, powerful provisions for the benefit of those who never learn of Christ.  We believe that the 'Earth' experiment doesn't conclude at death, but continues on in the next world for a time until the time for the end arrives.  People in the next life continue learning, growing, and having opportunities to discover the gospel and learn.  Since one of the main points of life is simply to have a life and experience the feelings associated with it, there are a lot of people who are born when the complete teachings of the gospel aren't available.

Joseph Smith--the founder of the LDS religion--taught that any person who WOULD have accepted the gospel in this life will be saved in the next.  These people will accept the teachings in the next life.  Plus, they will live the best lives they can on this world.  It's possible to be a very, very good person without the gospel.  I believe it enhances life, but it was impossible--because of agency, and because of the way the world had to work--for everyone to live in a place where they could be taught the truth.  And so, these people will be saved.

In addition, the LDS concept of Heaven isn't as strict as a lot of religions.  We look at heaven as a continuum--people are rewarded with happiness in direct proportion to how good a person they were in this life.  Even the worst of people commit a few good acts of kindness, and they will be rewarded for those.  The punishment they feel--the fires of Hell spoken of--are taught in the Book of Mormon as being mostly self inflicted.  The pains of hell is the knowledge of missed opportunities, of lost chances to do good and to help others, and the pain we feel from having made terrible decisions and having hurt others.  (The result of our having being given our free wills.)

In the end, there's Jesus Christ.  He, as an immortal and perfect person, was given the power to take away sins--essentially to fill in the gaps.  He is allowed to take upon him some of our own pains, and if we accept him, make up for our missed opportunities.  In this way, we can have joy that is perfect--without regrets--because while we made mistakes, we learned from them, and we learned to do better.  Christ then took our sins upon himself as a reward for believing in him, having faith, and repenting (becoming a better person.)  God doesn't care how many times we fall; the central teaching of Christ's ministry, as I read it, is being sorry for your mistakes and trying to do better.

So, no.  I don't believe that good people who never accepted LDS teachings will go to hell.  Will mother Teresa go to Hell?  Of course not.  I well nigh think that things will be better for her in the eternities than they might be for me, unless I shape up. 

There is a lot more to this--the concept that, if Christ makes us perfect, we become as He and the Father are, gaining everything they have.  Also, we do baptize people for the dead.  (Meaning, in the temples, a member can bring the name of an ancestor who didn't have a chance to have the gospel, then be baptized on their behalf to give them the opportunity--should they accept it in the next life--to have their sins wiped away.)  However, the core of it is what I explained above.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: EUOL on January 18, 2007, 12:47:59 AM
Part three:  Feelings

Central to the teachings of our church, and to the Book of Mormon, is the concept that God answers our prayers.  We have agency, and he can't stop all suffering--but he reserves the right to make things better for us if we humble ourselves and ask.

Central to this asking is the teaching of our Church that God will lead someone who seeks it to the truth.  He will not leave you hanging, and he doesn't expect you to have to just wander around blindly and gamble on the religion you choose.  If he REALLY exists, then I believe strongly that he will let you know that, and that he will tell you which path in life he wants you to take.

The central missionary teaching of the LDS Church is this:  Read the Book of Mormon, pray about it, ask God to tell you if it is true or not.  We choose the Book of Mormon because it is unique to us, though we believe in the Bible as well.  The Book of Mormon doesn't really teach much that isn't in the Bible.  It was reserved to be revealed during this day so that the church would have another witness of Jesus Christ, and so that we would have something that other's didn't.  Not because they aren't worthy, but because the Book of Mormon can then be a test.

If people pray over that book, I believe that God will speak to them in their heart of its truth.  He speaks to us through a warmth inside, a feeling of joy, that is his method of giving us witness of things that are right and good.

I have prayed over the Book of Mormon.  I have prayed over the truthfulness of the truth.  I have felt a strong witness--a strong power--within me that I cannot deny.  I've only felt such a strong power a couple of times.  (One other being the time when I prayed over my decision whether or not to get married.)

This is something I cannot prove with science, and I am respectful of those who have troubles believing in something with only a feeling as proof.  However, it is my proof.  God lives, Christ is our Savior, and the Book of Mormon is true. 

That's why I believe.  I hope I didn't get too boring or preachy. 
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 18, 2007, 02:37:50 AM
Fair enough. Thanks for answering, and for not trying to convert me (sorry if that's offensive, but it's a problem I've had with most of the Mormons I know.)

A couple more questions:

Are you saying that it's possible for someone who knowingly rejects the Mormon gospel to go to Heaven, regardless of their religious leanings? And what of atheists? I identify myself as agnostic-atheist. I'm willing to accept anything as a possibility, but I refuse to place faith in any idea that relies entirely on something as abstract and subjective as a feeling for proof of its validity. Because I've yet to see any good reason why I should believe a God (or many gods) exist, I'm skeptical at best of most religions. According to your beliefs, does this have a bearing on what happens to me after I die?

The second is more controversial, and let me assure you right now I'm not trying to tell you your faith is incorrect; you're as entitled to your belief as I am to mine. That said, the Mormon church's stance on homosexuality is something I disagree with very, very staunchly. I'm homosexual, and I have extreme difficulty validating a religion that tries to condemn me because of whom I love. For a religion that preaches so strongly the value of family, it doesn't quite flow logically that it simultaneously preaches against homosexuality, which is a factor in an enormous number of loving, stable families. My own family has come to accept my orientation, and the whole experience has actually brought us closer together. Some of my role models and good friends are gay couples who are raising successful, happy, loving families. Why is it that your church focuses on family life, but condemns homosexuality?
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: EUOL on January 18, 2007, 03:15:46 AM
Armadius,

Good questions, and not at ALL offensive.   

(And as for the try to convert thing, please forgive us.  The LDS people tend to take sharing the gospel very seriously.  Most of them are more open-minded than they seem at first; it's just that they get very, very eager at the prospect of sharing their beliefs, and sometimes let their enthusiasm override their focus on what the person is really asking or needs.)

As for your first question, the answer is yes.  It is very possible, by our theology, for a person to NOT accept the gospel in this life and still obtain heaven.  Remember first that the LDS belief on heaven is rather broad--we look at most people, even those who commit serious crimes, as being more happy in the next life than they are in this life. 

However, a person who never accepted our religion in this life can indeed obtain the highest and fullest happiness in the next life.  Now, when LDS theologians talk about this, they mostly refer to people who never had a chance in this life.  However, most of them are careful to point out that we--as mortals--don't know what constitutes a fair chance.  If a person is given an opportunity to hear the gospel, they take it, and they decide not to join the church despite feeling that it's probably the right thing, the doctrine is fuzzy on whether or not that person will be given another chance.  However, the doctrine is very clear that people who never hear the gospel, but who are good people, will be able to obtain the highest level of heaven.

The middle is fuzzy ground we cannot really judge.  However, we DO believe that preaching is active on the other side, and that every person will be rewarded for the good deeds they do.  I'm convinced, personally, that a lot of people who reject the gospel in this life will be able to accept it in the next life because of unfair challenges or problems they had while here. 

This is a tough area to distinguish, however, since the scriptures are very clear on the fact that people who procrastinate repenting when they should obviously know better will have to suffer (most likely the suffering I mentioned above, which is the suffering of regret and opportunities missed) for what they have done.  I don't like to say "Yeah, you can accept it in the next life" since obviously this is a bad way to go about things.  We are meant to feel an urgency to becoming better people.  The longer we put it off, the more set in our ways we become--and we believe that you'll be the same person on the other side as you are now.  If you don't accept it now, it's actually going to be HARDER to make the changes and become the person you need to on the other side.  So, it's better to repent now and change.

Your other question is, indeed, a more difficult one--but I'm glad you asked it.  I'll get to it in my next post.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: EUOL on January 18, 2007, 03:53:02 AM
Of all the criticisms of the LDS church, I actually think this one is the one that is the most difficult to answer.  First off, let me say that I REALLY don't want to offend.  It's hard to talk about homosexuality from my side of the debate without coming off as a homophobe.  I don't think that I am.  The problem is, however, that who you are is very important to you.  By implying things about it--without having felt what you do--I wander into areas that make it easy to make errors in judgment.  So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, I don't know everything and please don't be offended if I stick my foot im my mouth.

The LDS church takes a strong stance against homosexuality, but not against homosexuals.  In fact, I've been very impressed with the church literature I've seen lately which encourages church leaders to be more understanding with this issue.

However, the honest truth is that we look at practicing homosexuality as wrong.  It was taught against in the Bible repeatedly, and has been confirmed by modern revelation as a sin.

The problem is, in saying that, I risk implying that you're a bad person because you're a homosexual.  I certainly don't mean to. It is not wrong to be homosexual.  It's something physical within your genetic makeup.  The homosexuals I've known--some are friends, one is my cousin--are not gay by choice.  It is something that happened to them, and they'd much rather have been straight, since being gay leads to all kinds of trouble. 

However, the difference in opinion we have is that we look at homosexuality as something innate, but still not right to act on.  I'd relate it to alcoholism, if that didn't seem to downplay the issue.  They aren't the same at all, but maybe the analogy can serve.  A person can be a natural, physical, alcoholic.  Does it make it all right for him to binge dink?  No.  Is he a bad person because he is susceptible to something others aren't? No.  However, we believe that it's still better for him to resist than it is for him to give in.  In many cases, sins happen when we give in to things that are natural impulses.

I can't claim to be an expert on this one.  Heck, I don't think anyone can be unless they have felt it.  And, I would point out that my personal belief is that it's no more wrong than sexual immorality of any kind.  And, if it's monogamous like the relationships you've pointed out, then my opinion is that it's much less of a sin than--say--a man cheating on his wife.  (Though, it's hard to rank sins, and I don't think it's very good to do so.  When we do, we risk getting into "Yeah, but at least I'm not as bad as THAT guy over there.)

Will my cousin go to hell because he's gay?  Of course not.  He's a wonderful person.  He's not LDS, never has been, but he is one of the nicest, kindest people I know.  Will he have troubles if he doesn't eventually accept Christ?  Yeah, I think he'll wish that he had.  Would he be better off if he decided to not act on his homosexual tendencies?  I honestly think that he would.  Of course, I'd be better off if I could stop being as lazy as I am in a lot of areas in my life.  We all have issues, and one of the thing Christ repeats over and over is that we shouldn't judge others because of their sins. 

Personally, I think God is going to be a ton more accepting of this one than he is of a lot of other things.  If your body is telling you one thing, it's tough to accept it when someone tells you the opposite because of words they've read in a book or spiritual experiences they've had.  Who are they to say what is right and wrong for you?  My only suggestion on this would be the following: only God can really have anything convincing to say on the topic. 

If you want to know some more of actual church talk about this, and you aren't quick to be offended by people who take it as given that what you feel is wrong, then do a search for 'same sex attraction' over at www.lds.org.  However, here's what one Church leader (elder oaks, one of our apostles) said:

“The person that’s working to resist those tendencies ought not to feel himself to be a pariah. Now, quite a different thing is sexual relations outside of marriage. A person engaging in that kind of behavior should well feel guilt. They should well feel themselves estranged from God, who has given commandments against that kind of behavior. It’s not surprising to me that they would feel estranged from their church. What surprises me is that they would feel that the Church can revoke God’s commandments.  To the woman taken in adultery (which is a pretty good precedent for us), the Savior was merciful and loving, but he said, ‘Go thy way and sin no more.’ He loved the sinner; he condemned the sin. I think the Church does the same thing, imperfectly perhaps, but that’s what we teach our members: love the sinner, condemn the sin."

How's that?  Now, reading it, I think I seem a lot more apologetic than I really need to be.  I don't intend to sound ashamed of what I believe, because I'm not.  I have confidence in the teachings of the savior. However, this is a touchy issue, and one that isn't nearly as easy to answer as most religious questions. 
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: EUOL on January 18, 2007, 03:55:14 AM
Note: I know of at least one LDS author who has done a very respectful book series with a gay man as a main protagonist.  Tracy Hickman (with Margaret)'s Rose of the Prophet books.  Might not work for a person who is actually gay, but I found the depiction to be very well done.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on January 18, 2007, 04:11:31 AM
There are many important aspects of human existence that rely on something as abstract and subjective as a feeling for proof of their validity.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 18, 2007, 05:48:58 AM
Pardon me. That was poorly worded. I was speaking only about religion; my point is that until very, very convincing evidence or proof is presented to me, I refuse to acknowledge the undeniable truth of any one dogma. I agree with some tenets of almost all religions, but I'm currently unable to have faith in any particular denomination.

As for the answer, I still very profoundly disagree, but you're actually doing a marvelous job of explaining all this in a non-offensive way. I don't think I'm ever actually going to agree with you, but like I said, nothing excites me more than good religious discussion. Anyway, a few things:

1. I make no claim to be a Bible scholar. That said, it's true, the Bible does say things against homosexuality, but keep in mind that Jesus never actually talked about homosexuality, as far as I know. Furthermore, it's really only stated in the New Testament; I'd be happy to explain why Sodom and Gomorrah and Leviticus aren't actually anti-gay. Call it a product of my very lightly Jewish-influenced upbringing, but I tend not place much stock in the New Testament. Also, could you explain what you mean when you say it's been confirmed as sin by modern revelation?

2. I don't think I've ever sincerely wanted to be heterosexual. I enjoy my life very much as a gay person. Certainly, it makes many aspects of life immeasurably more difficult, but I'm getting a great sense of fulfillment right now. As you say, part of life is about overcoming challenges and striving to change. While I don't think I need to change my sexuality, it certainly has been an experience in overcoming - it is very much a way of bettering myself, because I'm learning in the best possible way how to accept alternate views and respond to others' actions.

3. You may disagree, but I would be careful of deeming it "sexual immorality". Keep in mind that homosexuality might be more aptly labled "homophelia"; it's as much a matter of love as it is of lust. I understand it's probably about as difficult for you to imagine loving a man romantically as it is for me to imagine loving a woman the same way, but homosexuality really isn't a simple matter of being attracted to men. I'm only 16, but I've been in love before, and I can say quite honestly that it's the best feeling I've ever experienced. I still find it a bit odd that a church with such a strong focus on family and unity through love can protest a strong, loving connection between two beings, regardless of sex.

4. Resisting homosexuality is extremely difficult, and because it's a genetic matter, so-called "ex-gay" ministries are (in my opinion) quite deluded in thinking it can be changed. Again, I understand it's difficult, but try to imagine a world where heterosexuality is stigmatized rather than homosexuality. Picture people trying to tell you that your attraction to women is morally wrong, and that you must conform to the standard of being gay. Try to imagine what it would be like to completely ignore any sexual impulses you've ever had, and force something that is, to you, very unnatural upon yourself. It's much, much easier said than done.

And I'll see if I can find those books anywhere. I'm in desperate need of a good read. Also, sorry if I'm coming off as critical and/or preachy; I always have trouble avoiding that when I talk about theology.

(By the way, I don't think I've said how very surreal this is. I always dream of being able to talk to my favorite authors about something other than their books, but due to the masses of fans, I seldom actually think it's possible. And I should probably also insert something about how fond I am of your work. It's wonderfully creative!)
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Skar on January 18, 2007, 06:04:20 AM
Forgive me as I stick my nose in. 
Quote
3. You may disagree, but I would be careful of deeming it "sexual immorality". Keep in mind that homosexuality might be more aptly labled "homophelia"; it's as much a matter of love as it is of lust.
What I believe Brandon meant by "sexual immorality" is, simply, sex outside of marriage.  According to LDS theology the only time sex is condoned is when it's between a married couple.  A man having sex with his gay partner, to whom he is not married, is just as bad/sinful as a man having sex with his girlfriend, to whom he is not married.  The two acts are equivalently sinful.  The sin is not in having the urges or the love, it is in acting on them outside of marriage.

Now, obviously, since the LDS church does not allow homosexual marriages, this leaves the gay man permanently out in the cold.  He'll never be able to act on his sexual urges but will have to resist them his whole life.  (unless he somehow changes their focus to females.  perhaps that's why there's so much focus on the ex-gay ministries?)  Anyway, at the same time, the clinically diagnosed kleptomaniac will never be able to act on his urges either.  Neither set of urges (kleptomania or homosexuality) condemns the person who has them. (and no, I am not equating gays with thieves, it's just an example of inborn traits)

Now, I am notorious on this forum for offending people.  It is never my intent to do so.  I hope that I have not done so in this case.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 18, 2007, 06:16:50 AM
Hehe, not to worry. Living in small-town Massachusetts amidst petty, catty high school students tends to make people fairly thick-skinned. I'm almost impossible to offend, to the point where I often wind up mistakenly assuming what doesn't offend me won't often others. You can't fathom how many sarcastic religious quips I'm holding in. And don't worry about sticking your nose in either; I value everyone's two cents.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: EUOL on January 18, 2007, 06:38:44 AM
What a wonderfully well-thought and articulated response, Armadius.  You're sixteen? You need to become a writer.

Anyway, I think Skar correctly identified my thoughts on that point.  However, to be perfectly honest, I would rather have someone in a monogamous gay relationship than have them being promiscuously heterosexual. It seems to me that this one sin has been over-emphasized in proportion to some others.  But, let me look at your points one by one.

1.  You are right, I think, to question this.  The simple fact is that the Bible--as wonderful as it is--really can't be used in this issue extensively.  Christ never spoke against homosexuality. The scriptures we can quote on the topic come from Paul or Moses. And, you've already pointed out the problem with the Sodom scriptures--they are by no means conclusive in regards to homosexuality.  That leaves us with a scripture in Leviticus where man is commanded not to lie with mankind, and the quotes from Paul (who, in similar passages, is known for commanding that women should not be allowed to speak in church.)  So, I must say, you certainly win this point, in my opinion.

The only response I can offer gets us into two more points of LDS doctrine.   We take a lot of flack from mainstream Christian churches for these points of belief.  1) We believe that the Bible has a lot of flaws that have crept into it through miss-translations and other errors.  2) We believe that if God has a true church on the Earth, he will lead it by way of prophets to whom he speaks in the same way he did to Moses, John the Baptist, Paul, and Isaiah. 

The LDS church was founded by Joseph Smith, who claimed to have seen a vision of God and Jesus Christ. (Story is here, in his own words, if you are curious:

http://scriptures.lds.org/en/js_h/1

 Since him, the church has been led by a prophet in turn.  (There's a hierarchy, kind of like the Catholics except for two things: the LDS church has no paid ministers, so these men are retired people who quit their other jobs when asked to serve in this position, and seniority leads--there is no electing the next leader, and no politics involved.) 

We respect the teachings of these leaders above the things taught in the scriptures.  We believe they receive direct guidance from God to lead the church.  (We put a lot of stock in guidance from God--like I said earlier, we believe that all people are entitled to revelation and guidance from God to lead and guide them.)  So, the prophets (there are fifteen, with the eldest being "the" prophet and president of the church) are very important to us. A book written two thousand years ago can offer great things, but modern prophets are necessary to talk about today's concerns.

So, the modern prophets (I quoted Elder Oaks earlier) have confirmed that homosexuality is a sin.  It is because of this stance that the church as a whole can take a stand against homosexuality.  (Though, hopefully, an understanding stand.)  It is not inconceivable that this stand could change. I don't think it will, but there are times when the church position has altered.  The biggest example of this was when the church changed positions to allow blacks to be ordained priests.  We believe this direction came from God, and that the world and church had changed enough to allow this.

Either way, we have modern confirmation from a man we believe receives direction from God that church members are not to engage in homosexual romances.  We don’t have to rely on the Bible—which is wonderful, but sometimes vague (like it is on homosexuality.)

--Edit, link to Joseph Smith's history added. More responses coming.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: EUOL on January 18, 2007, 06:56:07 AM
2.  Understood.  I'm actually interested to hear this, and I apologize for assuming that everyone who was gay wanted to be straight.  My gay friends express this desire--not that they really wish to be straight, but that if they had to chose, they'd probably be straight just so they wouldn't have to deal with all the societal issues of being gay.

3.  Again, I appreciate hearing this. 

Maybe I'd best get into the real core of why homosexuality doesn't work with LDS doctrine.  Our focus on family comes from deep theological beliefs.  The point of life is to gain experience and learn.  The ultimate point of existence, however, is much more than that. We believe that we are learning and growing because we are the children of God, and in so being are capable of becoming like Him in all ways. That means Godhood is our ultimate goal. 

However, spirits come in two types--male and female.  Joseph Smith taught--and this is some deep doctrine that we really don't often get into because we really don't know much about it--that God was once like we are now.  And, in order for a person to become like him, one must have a spouse.  One man, with the power of the priesthood, and one woman, with the power of creation.  Together, they can create and become as God (who also has a wife.)  Two men together, however, would not be complete, and neither would two women. There are two types of marriage for us. Worldly marriage, in which you make a covenant for life. Eternal marriage, in which you make a covenant for eternity. 

So, I think THAT'S the core.  The Church's stance against homosexuality comes from a deep belief that it is contrary to God's ultimate  goal for us.  (And we also believe we had gender before birth. This begs the question of hermaphrodites, which I don't even want to touch.)
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: EUOL on January 18, 2007, 07:31:11 AM
4.  I can really have no argument here, either, other than to point out that I am aware that Homosexuality is not something that can be 'cured.'  People who try to do so don't understand the nature of it.  It can, however, be resisted.   Yes, it would be hard to live in a world where heterosexuality is stigmatized.  (That brought to mind an interesting image, by the way.  There's probably a story there, somewhere.  Unfortunately, it would be hard to do right.)  Anyway, remaining celibate as a gay person can be no more difficult than remaining celibate as a heterosexual person--something we, as members of the church, are asked to do when we are not married.

Celibacy is a hard thing, and it is not something I could suggest that you do.  The thing is, you're not a member of my faith.  As I stated in my original religion rant, I think a person is held to the dictates of their faith.  I believe in the LDS doctrine.  For that reason, I remained celibate until marriage.  (Which didn't happen until I was 30, so I at least have a little grounds to stand on in this argument.)  For a person who is not a member of my faith, however, these dictates don't really hold.

The homosexuality issue--though it is fun to debate, because it lets us express our different beliefs--is actually a small issue.  Before I would have any grounds to convince you (which, indeed, I really don't think I should try to do.  My goal so far has only been to explain where we are coming from in our beliefs) you would 1) have to believe in God and 2) have to believe in my religion.  My only grounds to stand on are the words of the prophets, which are meaningless to someone who doesn't share my faith. 

And so, these things I offer as explanations more than arguments.  I think, in particular, our belief in the divine nature of mankind is the most explanatory and foundational of why we think the way we do.    For this reason, our church calls the act of practicing homosexual sex as a sin, and resists gay marriage legislation for the reason that it would legalize this act, which we believe is a miss-use of creative power.  (It's actually very rare for the church to take an official stance on a legal issue.  Each election year, the church leaders release a statement that must be read in each church congregation.  It states as a reminder that the church does NOT endorse any one political party, and that members should not imply that it does.)

Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on January 18, 2007, 03:03:26 PM
I, like skar, get into fights. I hope not to, but I feel compelled to explicate a couple things.

Homosexuality being genetic has not, to my knowledge, been conclusively proven by science. It is also not Church doctrine that homosexuality is a trait one is "born" with.

In fact, I have seen a lot of studies -- both clinical and anecdotal -- that demonstrate that attractedness can be a learned behavior, in either direction.

I don't think there's any problem, in the church, with loving someone of the same gender. Unless that love is also physical. If it's purely emotional love, I'm not sure I really see any difference between non-physical love and "best friends."

So I think there's less conflict than you do. You claim that homophilia is what you experience, but are confused (not sure if I'm using the right adjective there) by a church that preaches against it. However, from what I understand, the Church doesn't teach against homophilia. It specifically outlaws homoSEXUALITY.

I also don't think that "love" and "family" are as synonymous as you establish. Certainly love is a prerequisite to a ...uhm. successful? family -- a healthy, happy family. But part of family, esp in the Church's view, is progeny -- having children. For a host of doctrinal reasons. This would be why the Church can teach against homosexuality and be so aggressive in family teachings. Ancestry and descent are important elements in family.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Shuez on January 18, 2007, 07:09:40 PM
I was really worried about Armadius for awhile, I thought that this was going to turn ugly! I detest religious debate on forum boards that are not about religion.

Armadius, I agree with Brandon, your responses are NOT those of a sixteen year old. Very well written.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: EUOL on January 18, 2007, 09:28:28 PM
SE,

I don't know.  I'm pretty much convinced on the genetic side of it.  Knowing my cousin, who wanted very badly to be straight (not for church reasons, but because he just wanted to not have to deal with the issues) went to counseling for some six years to try getting over his same sex attraction.  For him, it's genetic, I'm 100% convinced. 

The Church, I've noticed, doesn't take a stand either way--which I think is wise.  The Church is not a source of medical authority.  All the leaders say is "No matter where this comes from, we take a stand against sexual relations between people of the same gender."  The numerous articles published for church members about resisting inclinations seems to indicate to me that they realize that--nature or nurture--there are many people who don't have any choice regarding which gender they find attractive. 

Your points are very well put, however--and I agree with the other ones.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Spriggan on January 18, 2007, 09:58:59 PM
Heh, love the AdWords for this thread.  One can always count on google to make any conversation humorous.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on January 18, 2007, 10:07:53 PM
for the record, I didn't say it *wasn't* genetic. I simply said what you just said: the Church does not say it is genetic. I have yet to be pointed to conclusive proof that science says it's genetic. This does not mean it isn't. It means that when you say it's genetic, it's an opinion. That opinion may be founded on some evidence, but it doesn't make it fact.

A person, even a person who wants to, not being able to change his behavior is not even solid evidence that the behavior is genetic. People fail to do things they really want all the time. There are many factors.  You used alcoholism as an example. You aren't born an alcoholic. YOu may have an inherited predisposition toward alcoholism, but even if you do, having a few drinks does not automatically make you an alcoholic.  Thus I don't find your conclusion remotely convincing -- especially given your description of why your cousin wanted to change his attraction. It sounds to me like he didn't have a conviction that he *should* change.

The most I'm willing to admit possible is that *some* homosexual attraction is genetic. Or, more likely, that there are genetic *influences* on homosexual attraction. I've seen a lot of people change their attractions. To me that says they don't have a gene that dictates their attraction. I don't think that anyone is born programmed to like the same gender. My conclusion is also an opinion, i admit, but I looke at all the evidence before me, and that's the conclusion I believe most likely.

Anyway, that's really neither here nor there, it's just the sort of discussion I like to have. As you say (and I said just a few paragraphs ago), the Church has no stance on the genetic nature of homosexual attraction. So, doctrinally, all we can say is that homosexual behavior is forbidden. The rest is details.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 18, 2007, 10:14:15 PM
Studies can indicate anything, SE. I can all but guarantee you that I could locate just as many studies suggesting a genetic basis for it as you could suggesting another view. My certainty that homosexuality is a genetic trait comes entirely from the fact that I see no other likely possibility; take it from one who would know best: it's not a choice. I never made the choice to be gay and, frankly, there's no logical reason why I would. I enjoy my life as a gay man, but that's due largely to the experiences I've had; I have no desire to change, but if I had been granted a choice, without knowledge of the experiences I'd have being gay, I doubt I would have opted for it.

And while you're perfectly entitled to think that it's a nurtured characteristic rather than an intrinsic one, I disagree. I ask you, what factors would lead to a homosexual child? An absent father figure, some claim, but my father's been anything but. He's hardly a paramount example of society's ideal "man's man", but my straight brother - also raised by him - seems to suggest there is no tie between a father's hand in rearing his son and his son's sexuality. Even if this isn't your argument, I'll be happy to refute whatever you claim nurture's homosexuality in a person.

And I'm perfectly aware that the Church doesn't take a stance on two people of the same sex loving each other. My point, though, was that homosexuality shouldn't be grouped with adultery, beastiality, etc. as "sexual immorality" because "homosexual" really is something of a misnomer in most cases. There is, in my mind, a very distinct difference between "best friend" love and romantic love; I can quite honestly say that the romantic love I've felt is NOT the same as the love I have for my best friends. And please, don't try to tell me the difference is the presence of carnal attraction, because I've been very attracted to some of my friends before, but they're still just that - friends.

Also, the church's stance doesn't confuse me. It just seems a tad contradictory, to me, to preach against gays raising families but preach in favor of families as a whole.

In addition, I'm not trying to equate love with family, but I do think the two are very, very strongly related. I think even LDS members can agree with me on that. For a family to function the way it should, and to be considered "successful", I believe its members must love one another. The fact that two gay men cannot rear a child who is biologically related to them does not mean they cannot raise children; as I've said, some of my very good friends are raising two, even three kids, and they're shaping up to be ideal members of society. Genetics isn't all that makes a family. In fact, it's a very small part. If I weren't genetically related to my parents, I doubt it would seriously damage my family's cohesion. I love my mother and father far more for the effect they've had on my life to this point than I do for their having created that life in the first place.

Perhaps "debate" wasn't quite the right word.

Also, Suez and EUOL, thanks for the compliment. Call me arrogant, but I never tire of hearing that ;) (Is an emoticon considered adequate ending punctuation? It looks weird if I throw a period before/after it.)

And EUOL, I've actually considered being a writer before, but I don't currently have the patience to write a novel of any respectable length, and (pardon me if this is offensive or whatnot) I don't think writing can yield as much money as I'd need to support the kind of lifestyle I want. Now, that's not to say I really expect to be able to live the way I want to - but I'm only a kid. Allow me my hopes and dreams ;)
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Spriggan on January 18, 2007, 10:23:34 PM
Why do we think Homosexuality it wrong? quite simple.

We believe to get the full blessings of heaven you need to be married and both male and female bring what's necessary to the equation, it's like a plug you can't get power by placing the same ends together.  There are two parts to the whole, a male and a female, and no other combos will work.  And buy not having that combination you can't get those blessings and thus are doing something that impedes your heavenly progression.

So it pretty much comes down to either you believe God commanded it or you don't, there's no hypocrisy or double standards because God has said what the reason is.  It's not because we can exclude a group, which no religion wants to do, it's because there's a Heavenly Law that dictates it and God does not make exceptions to any rules.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Sigyn on January 18, 2007, 10:58:26 PM
I also do not want to be offensive, but I would like to add this.

A few years ago, my mother (who was a Mormon seminary teacher) went to a lecture by a psychologist.  This psychologist (I don't remember his name--If you really want it, I can see if my mother kept track of it but she has a very bad memories for names and so may or may not be able to comply) worked solely with members of the LDS church who were homosexual and did not want to be.  This means his numbers are skewed because he didn't work with people who did not have a religious reason for not wanting to be homosexual, and he didn't work with people who were content with their sexuality.

He said that about 70 percent of the people he worked with could overcome their homosexual tendencies.  Now that still leaves a large portion that could not.  He also said that while many of the people he saw seemed to be homosexual from birth most likely because of a genetic predisposition, he also saw a large number of people who had been sexually abused as children.  My impression from what he said is that his success was mostly with this latter group.

I am not saying that homosexuals were all abused.  I believe that a lot of people who are homosexual were born with those feelings.  But I don't believe they all were.  It becomes a difficult issue because many people think that it's either an all or nothing.  Either all homosexuals have the possibility of becoming heterosexual or none of them do.  I think the truth is somewhere imbetween.  The difficulty is that some people seem to think that saying any homosexuals can change is an attack on all homosexuals.  Oddly enough, there is something very similar among the deaf community where deaf activists think that surgeries to restore hearing are an attack against all deaf people.  I believe the logic is something along the lines of, "You wouldn't try to cure being black or try to cure being female, so why would you try to cure being deaf?"

It's a difficult issue because people are so emotionally involved.  Emotions tend to make people think less rationally and to be more likely to take offense.  That's my two cents.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Spriggan on January 18, 2007, 11:09:26 PM
I think another thing that clouds that issue is the people like Ann Hashe who become gay to be trendy and then switch back and fourth when it suits their needs.  A lot of people sadly form opinions on important social issues just by watching what's ever popular or making news in Hollywood at the time.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 19, 2007, 03:35:51 AM
Spriggan - I agree. It does all boil down to whether or not one believes God commanded it. However, I don't quite agree with your perspective on why it's wrong - you say same-sex couples can't complete "the equation", but that relies entirely on the belief that there is an equation to complete. I don't doubt there's a reason we're here, but I don't presume to know what it is. The view that we exist only to perpetuate life seems, to me, fairly narrow. For, as I see it, I'm probably never going to pass on my genes, but I still exist. If I were meant only to procreate, I wouldn't exist. Now, that said, the validity of this depends entirely on whether or not you believe homosexuality is a choice.

Also, please don't make the mistake of saying someone "becomes homosexual" and then shifts back. Displaying homosexual tendencies does not make someone gay; plenty of angsty teenagers pretend to be bisexual because it gets attention. This does not make them truly bisexual. People who use sexuality as a publicity stunt demean and belittle the importance of the issue.

Sigyn - That's something I hadn't even considered. I'm actually a little bit stuck trying to refute it, because you have a very good point. I don't want to get too heavily into Freudian psychology (being that I'm about as much a psychologist as I am a Bible scholar) but I've heard from many sources that psychosexual development can be stunted  and/or warped by traumatic experiences. I've seen this used as an explanation for the whole pedophilia scandal that plagued the Catholic church. But let's assume that I'm speaking of people who have had no traumatic sexual experiences; I certainly never have. It's my firm belief that sexual orientation, unless affected by traumatic experience, can't be changed. Those who claim otherwise seem, to me, to be delusional; sometimes desire can override perception of reality, and if someone wants badly enough to be straight, he/she can convince him/herself that he/she is.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on January 19, 2007, 05:30:01 AM
Armadius, I think you were confused by Spriggan's talk of plugs. He's not talking about perpetuating life here on earth, but about heavenly progression after this life. It's something we believe God says can only be done in male/female pairs. So then it just goes back to whether or not one believes God commanded it.

There's also some confusion here between being homosexual in orientation and being homosexual by practice. A person certainly can change their sexual practices and "become (practicing) homosexual" and then later switch back. This isn't talking about orientation (though some people claim to have changed their own orientation as well, so saying some people claim this would not be making a mistake—and I think that unless you know them personally, calling them delusional is overreaching).
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on January 19, 2007, 01:38:13 PM
amen ookla.

I admit to there being some genetic influence, but when you take a case study of a man who was *not* abused or traumatized but realized he felt more attracted to men than woman, who was then later able to change his attraction, well... that makes it literally impossible for homosexual attraction to be genetically predestined in all cases.

That doesn't refute that *some* homosexuality is genetically determined. But I find it absurd to take the stance that it isn't. The "why would I choose this" argument is a fallacy. People choose behaviors all the time that can ultimately be very poor over a long period of time. The argument also trivializes what is meant by "choosing" to be homosexual. No one is suggesting that one day people wake up and think "oh, I'll be gay from now on."
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 19, 2007, 05:04:06 PM
You're right, Ookla. Sorry for the misunderstanding. This all has to do with the meaning-of-life debate, which I don't really care to get into now. But from the perspective of someone who doesn't necessarily believe in an afterlife (call it "Heaven", if you want), I've only been given one life, and it's my intent to make the best of it that I can. I'm not quite willing to risk having a miserable life on Earth for the (possibly very slim) chance of having a better life after I die.

As to your point about changing sexuality, yes, it is possible to change sexual practice, and this is where the difference between homophilia and homosexuality comes into play again. But think of it this way - me trying to deny my sexuality a few years ago didn't make me straight; it just made me delusional. And I do know some people who have undergone counseling to change their orientation - even some who think it worked - but I don't believe it's possible to change a sexuality so easily. People can be convinced that being homosexual is wrong, and as I said, their desire to change may override their natures, but wishing something doesn't make it come true, and trying to pretend otherwise does, in my view, qualify as a delusion.

And SE, I'd actually be quite interested to read this study you mention. Is there any chance I could see it?

In the end, it's all individual perception - nobody can know for certain someone else's orientation. As such, any study on the matter is relatively ineffectual; the participant could be one of the cases I've mentioned where a desire to be straight overrides the perception of reality.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Skar on January 19, 2007, 06:49:30 PM
Seems to me that one's sexuality is entirely a matter of perception.  As discussed earlier, the defining characteristic seems to be: Who do you fall in love with?  Who do you lust after?  If these things change, one's sexuality has changed.  Thus if someone thinks it worked, it worked.  Calling them delusional is exactly as rational as calling me delusional for thinking that I'm hetero or calling Armadius delusional for thinking that he's gay.

Just a thought.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on January 19, 2007, 07:27:38 PM
I read the study in a book called Breaking the Cycle of Compulsive Behavior.  I can't remember the author right now, but I own the book, so I can look it up later.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Spriggan on January 19, 2007, 09:05:29 PM
Quote
but that relies entirely on the belief that there is an equation to complete
And I fully believe that equation exists and is the reason, I understand other's don't, but it's all I need.  Nor do I feel the need to have to prove myself or disprove your beliefs or views, I'm very confident in my beliefs and they're not something I feel I have to defend because I don't care what other's think of me because of them.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Ladithien on January 19, 2007, 11:25:06 PM
I'd like to pipe in briefly that I am very impressed with this discussion.  I sat and read through the pages out of sheer delight that a religious conversation of such sensitivity could occur without the trainwreck quota.

I also find the explication of the Mormon faith (and Brandon's beliefs in particular) intriguing.  I have never met anyone, surprisingly enough, who is a Mormon, let alone multiple people.

Just my two cents.  :)
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: MsFish on January 19, 2007, 11:49:13 PM
This is the most civil controversial thread I've ever seen on this site.  Well done, everyone. 

I've always found the nature-nurture debate a little futile in all it's forms.  I'm not just referring to homosexuality here, but all traits where this debate is popular.  I have severe depression.  Some people say it's a chemical thing (inborn).  Some people say it's a behavioral thing (learned).  I actually disagree on both counts, because I think both play a part.  I was born with a propensity for depression, but it is the experiences I have encountered that led that inborn trait to manifest. 

I wonder if it might not be the same in homosexuals, though I obviously don't have enough experience to say.  Perhaps there is something inborn that is then brought out by experiences or environments.  Then, homosexuality would not be *caused* by not having a father figure or by being abused, but it might be brought out by either of these situations, or by entirely different environmental things entirely. 

Overall, I think the focus needs to be on being respectful of other people's choices of lifestyle.  If I tell other people how they can or cannot live their lives, I run the risk of losing my own freedoms.  There are many people who would marginalize Mormons, just as there are many people who would marginalize homosexuals.  I think we need to protect people's choices to do as they wish, as long as they aren't interfering with the basic rights of other people.

Also, Armadius, thanks for bringing this up.  I hope you stick around the forums in the future.  You *are* very articulate for a sixteen year old--or for a person in general for that matter.  Welcome.

Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: amyface on January 20, 2007, 12:46:26 AM
Just a little thing,

I'm a Catholic straight scientist who has no problem at all with homosexuality (as long as the emotions are true and not slutty, which is also how I feel about heterosexuals).

I was recently in a genetics class and the gay gene question was brought up. My professor read a study in a peer reviewed journal that was looking for a gene. They couldn't find any genetic connection but they did find evidence that there were higher levels of estrogen in the utoris in males that was linked to homosexuality. There wasn't a specific cause for the increase found but it was thought to be a random occurance unrelated to any genetic predisposition. My point is that they have found a real medical, scientific reason behind male homosexuality. This was a very recent discovery and is now in furthur stages of research but I found it very interesting. They didn't find any similiar links to lesbien women though.

I could ask my professor if she could find the specific journal article if anyone is interested.

This is a very interesting, respectful and well put discussion! I'm liking it!
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Faster Master St. Pastor on January 20, 2007, 02:16:13 AM

Are you saying that it's possible for someone who knowingly rejects the Mormon gospel to go to Heaven, regardless of their religious leanings?

I realize that Brandon already partially answered this, but he left out something that I feel should be mentioned, namely, the sons of Perdition. In Mormonism we believe that the people that have had the truthfullness of the gospel manifested them by the spirit, and believed it, and taken the covenants in our church associated with it, and then chose to reject it and follow Satan will be...well, I'm trying to think of a good way to say this, but the only thing I can think of that really does it justice is the actual scripture itself. It's in the Doctrine and Covenants, which is a book of some of the major revelations that we believe were given to Joseph Smith before he was killed at Carthage. It also contains the Official Declarations 1 and 2. Declaration 2 has already been referenced, which is the one where blacks were finally aloud to be given the priesthood. But I digress; I'm going off on a tangent.

The scripture is Section 76:31-36 which can be found here (http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/76) towards the middle of the page.

It outlines our belief that the only people that will actually go to hell, besides the devil and his angels, are the ones who rejected Christ after knowing fullwell that is the Saviour, which in our church would be somewhat akin to a general authority leaving the church and actively trying to destroy it. At least, thats my take, since we aren't actually told how far into the church you have to be before it would apply if you left. Personally the scripture is rather strong, and it ingrained itself pretty hard into my memory, particularly verse 33, which is why I mentioned it at all.

And that is my addition to this discussion for now.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 20, 2007, 02:38:23 AM
Oh, boy. I'll handle this person-to-person.

Skar - I'd like to agree, because then it would be easier for people who want to change to do so. But sexuality has a physical, chemical basis; as such, if it's at all decided simply by perception, it cannot be entirely so. When I address Amyface's point, I'll add more to this thought.

SaintEhlers - I'll need to see if I can find that somewhere. If you could get me the author's name, I'd be grateful. Do you remember if it was very dense, dryly scientific writing, or was it something that I'd be able to read and comprehend the first time through?

Spriggan - That's completely fine and, frankly, I'm not asking you to defend them or to argue with me. This was started simply as a question about why you believe what you do, not to attack you for your beliefs. More people in the world should be so confident in what they believe; it would solve a lot of problems.

FMP - I appreciate you bringing that up. Always glad to have more assurance that, if I am wrong, I'm not going to hell because of it. Thanks for the addition!

Ladithien - Glad to know you're enjoying it! ^_^

MsFish - I think the nature/nurture debate tends not to get anywhere because there is no certain answer (yet); the success of a debate relies entirely on one party's willingness to change its stance. But, of course, due to the lack of convincing evidence in this case, I doubt anybody's viewpoint has been significantly altered.

I haven't honestly been thinking enough about other examples of the nature/nurture debate, actually. I've always sort of figured that depression has a chemical basis because there are medications that, purportedly, fix the chemical imbalance that's speculated as the cause. But then again, I'm in no position to judge it, being that I don't have it.

I don't really think homosexuality is the same way, though it very well could be. There's been no explanation of what factors or experiences lead to the development of latent homosexuality. All theories that have been put forward have a lack of evidence supporting them or a substantial amount of evidence against them, in my opinion.

I agree, we should all endeavor to live in harmony with each other, but the first step to attaining harmony between two disagreeing people or parties is understanding one another's views.

Also, I do plan to stick around. Thanks for the compliment and warm reception!

Amyface - I think I may know what you're talking about. There was an article published fairly recently in a newspaper's magazine (I can't remember if it's the New York Times Magazine or the Boston Globe, sorry) that's probably a watered-down version of what you're referencing. I may be misunderstanding it, but the general gist of the article was that there's a hormone that affect a baby's development while it's still in the womb. If this hormone isn't present or isn't in sufficient amounts, the "switch" for heterosexuality may not be flipped, and the baby may be homosexual. I'll see if I can find the article.

The reality is that there are a lot of studies to support each side. One of my friends, a student in Arizona, told me about a couple of studies (I believe unrelated) that suggest homosexuals process pheremones the same way the opposite sex does. So, according to this, I process pheremones like a woman, whereas my friend Julia processes them like a man. I've read dozens of other studies suggesting a variety of things, but I'm trying not to bring them up for fear of sounding... uhm... pompous? That's not the right word, but I hope you know what I mean. I like to rely on my own thoughts and opinions, not the largely inconclusive studies of other people.

Again, glad you're all enjoying this!
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on January 20, 2007, 03:49:07 AM
Quote
I'm not quite willing to risk having a miserable life on Earth for the (possibly very slim) chance of having a better life after I die.
I should mention that no one in our church intends anyone to have to live a miserable life and hope for something better afterward. Or, well, yeah, life isn't expected to be easy—it's expected to be full of trials to overcome—but we believe that everyone will be better off during this life by following the commandments than by not following them.

Of course, exactly how not acting on homosexual attractions is supposed to keep you from being miserable is not something I've looked into.

One of the most central principles we believe in is what we call agency—basically, free will, self-determinism, etc. We have the ability and the responsibility to choose how we react to stimuli.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 20, 2007, 05:30:59 AM
Oh, I didn't mean to insinuate that you wish displeasure upon anybody. I'm sorry if it came out that way. But for my life to be complete and happy, I feel all aspects of it should be... celebrated? That might not make much sense. I'm exhausted right now, so excuse me if any of this isn't lucid. Anyway, I believe that my life (not necessarily everybody's, but mine) can't be fulfilled unless I celebrate the sexual and romantic aspect of it. As such, ignoring this part of my life would lead to it being more miserable than I'd like it to be. I appreciate the fact that life is full of challenges that are designed to make us better people, but the challenges that face me aren't in overcoming what some consider to be perverse urges; rather, I look on it as a test of my patience and willpower - the former because I get a lot of flak for being gay, and I feel I'm obligated to do my best to ignore it; and the second because tremendous determination is needed sometimes to prosper and get along with my peers despite social stigmata.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: DragonFly on January 20, 2007, 05:50:23 AM
I have been following this thread closely, because it hits so close to home. My family, on both my mother and father's side, have been LDS for generations. My husband and I were married in the temple, and we raised our kids in the LDS faith. Our only daughter is gay. It was a hard adjustment (though, in hindsight,  not entirely a surprise) when she told us. It occasioned hours of tears, prayers, and soul searching on my part, trying to come to terms with something for which I had no frame of reference. She was miserable during her high school years because she was trying to hide and deny her same-sex attraction.   I think one big reason she had such a hard time is that this is not a popular topic of discussion at church. The only thing she really knew was that the church teaches that homosexuality is wrong, and she had no real understanding of the distinction between the feelings and acting on the feelings. She thought she was a horrible, evil person for having feelings over which she had no control. My heart aches for her every time I think of what she was going through and the anguish she experienced. I truly wish that I had been observant enough to realize the turmoil she was in, and that I had been there to help her through it. She eventually chose to leave the church and pursue a gay lifestyle. We treat her and her partner the same as we treat our son and his girlfriend--they are welcome in our home at any time, they attend many of our family get togethers, but we ask that they respect our feeling and beliefs when they are in our home.

I firmly believe the principles that Brandon and other church members have explained on this thread. My daughter is a beautiful child of God that has a particular temptation to work through. It has to be her decision how she reacts to the feelings that she has. My responsibility is not to judge her, but to let her know that I love her and will accept whatever decisions she makes in her life. We have many frank discussions and she knows that the thing I want most is for her to be happy.

Armadius, I know this is not in line with your beliefs, and I hope I didn't say anything to offend you, but I thought maybe you would like to hear from someone with a little different perspective on the topic.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Lost One on January 20, 2007, 05:57:55 AM
At the risk of being offensive, I wish to add some of my own observations on the subject.

A professor I once had asked if homosexual behavior was a benign behavior.  In the class discussion that followed, many students seem to presume that there was nothing bad that could occur from homosexual behavior.  The professor then raised some controversial points. He first mentioned that homosexuality is only benign if restricted to a small minority of the population because homosexual individuals don't contribute to replenishing the population, and with the US fertility rate dropping below the critical 2.1 rate, having social acceptance of homosexual behavior may bring long-term ramifications to social and economic problems associated with population decline.

That was an argument that took many students by supprise but then the professor (in a break from his ultra-liberal persona) raised a more startling argument.  He mentioned that over 90% of those with HIV and AIDS in America are homosexuals. In addition, the homosexual community tends to suffer from significantly more STDs than heterosexuals.  He said that it is now estimated that over one million Americans have died from HIV and AIDS that was initially brought to the United States through the homosexual community.  

While I don't consider these arguments to be definitive, I will suggest that there is a case for homosexuality as being a behavior that is not benign and even harmful to society. This may sound a bit homophobic but I think it needs to be considered and not rashly dismissed.

Also, I would like to mention one thing about homosexuality being genetic. I really thing that arguing over whether homosexuality is a genetic is pointless.  Sexual behavior is generally engaged in by choice. Whether someone has a genetic disposition to make that choice does not negate that it is a choice. Those who persist in claiming that homosexuality is genetic seem to be searching for an excuse for their own behavior. I personally feel that too many people try to blame their behavior (good or bad) on genetics. Whether it is someone claiming that they committed a crime or Donald Trump gloating about his wealth, I can't stand it when people blame their behavior on genetics. Genes don't determine everything (and you don't have to be an identical twin like me to know that). Save blaming genes for things like heart disease, diabetes and down syndrome and stop using it to explain behavior.

Finally, I will mention that I've have friends with homosexual tendancies. While I don't agree with their choices, I still repect them as individuals and as good people.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 20, 2007, 07:55:56 AM
Dragonfly - I'm glad to get another perspective on it, especially that of a parent. I'm always interested to hear exactly what my parents may have gone through/may be going through; neither has religious objections to my orientation, but regardless, I imagine many of their reactions may have been similar to yours.

Speaking of parents with gay children, if any of you are interested, there's a fantastic memoir entitled The Family Heart that chronicles a mother's experience with her son coming out. The mother is not particularly pious, either, but if you're intrigued by this thread, I'd certainly suggest reading it. It ranks among my favorites.

The Lost 24 - The professor you mention is, as far as I know, mistaken. There is no evidence to suggest that social acceptance of homosexuality will cause an increase in the number of homosexuals. In fact, just to bring this back a little bit toward Brandon, I made the connection between homosexuality and the Shaod when I first read Elantris; both "strike" at random, regardless of one's station. Gay parents are no more likely to raise gay children than straight parents are; in fact, the first gay children must, quite obviously, have come from a straight couple.

Also, the observation that homosexuals do not contribute to replenishing the population is an incorrect one. Many gay males become sperm donors, and lesbians are no less fertile than heterosexual women. While the means may not be conventional, homosexuals do still contribute to the population. Though, to be honest, the world hardly needs more people in it right now; it sounds callous (and to some of you, probably anti-family) but the simple fact is that we live in an overpopulated country on an overpopulated planet that is rapidly being stripped of the resources necessary to continue supporting its inhabitants. Also, one cannot "restrict" an oritentation; activity, perhaps, but the same-sex attraction still remains, whether or not society recognizes it. I request that you not speak of it as you would an epidemic; I find that trivializing and insulting.

Furthermore, whoever it was that presented this information to you grossly overestimates the number of gay men with AIDS. It's true that the first cases of AIDS in the U.S. were found in the gay community, giving rise to nicknames such as "gay cancer", but shortly afterwards, several cases within heterosexual people were found.

In a 2004 study (I may have the year wrong), the CDC estimated that of all cases in the United States, 48% were due to male-to-male contact, and 7% were due to male-to-male contact and intravenous drug use. This leaves 45% of different causes, divided as follows: 27% male-to-female contact with intravenous drug use, 16% male-to-female contact, and 2% of other causes, including blood transfusion, birth with infection, and other unknown or unidentified causes. As for other STDs, could you find a study suggesting gay people are more susceptible? All sexual contact carries risks, which a) can be avoided using proper precautions, and b) should be assessed by interested couples, not outside parties; while I appreciate your concern that homosexuals not be infected with AIDS or other STDs, I'll thank you not to imply that I shouldn't be allowed to engage in whatever sexual activity I choose simply because of the largely avoidable health ramifications. In short, what I do behind closed doors is not likely to affect you or your well-being.

Also, I think I've explained already that I'm not referring only to the choice to engage in same-sex sexual activity when I say "homosexuality". I'm also referring to the (I believe genetically determined) predisposition to same-sex attraction. Yes, the choice to engage in sexual activity is just that - a choice. However, the inclination towards same-sex attraction is not, in my mind. Frankly, I get very annoyed by people who use genetics as an explanation for behavior, primarily because it's scientifically incorrect in most cases. However, please don't draw a parallel between homosexuality and avarice or criminal activity. I'm not saying the behavior is genetic; I'm saying the inclination is.

EDIT - If you want a better understanding of the beginning of the AIDS pandemic, I suggest viewing the 1993 HBO film, "And the Band Played On".
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: MsFish on January 20, 2007, 09:13:25 AM
Thanks for your response, A.  I thought of a few more things that I didn't mention in my earlier post, things I was dancing around but didn't actually say. 

I think the danger in the nature/nurture debate comes not from the debate itself but from the political work it is used to day.  It seems many people (certainly not all) who say that homosexuality is completely inborn add the corollary, "therefore people have no choice about engaging in homosexual activity".  I am leery of any argument that says people don't have choices, because I think people have choices in almost all situations.  They may not like the options, but they are there none the less.  On the other hand, saying that homosexuality is entirely a choice or based on environmental concerns comes with the corollary "therefore, people should just not be gay", which in my opinion is not really a rational or helpful argument, much less one that is a reflection of people's actual lived experience. 

And in response to what you said about depression, it might be interesting to note that, while I have depression, medication doesn't cure it.  Years and years of reprogramming cognitive behavior has  helped a ton, but my depression is caused by much more than the  chemicals in my brain.  It is my belief that most things are this way: we become the way we are because of a delicate and complicated interplay between our genetic makeup, our experiences, and our own choices.  But how much comes from which source is impossible to determine, scientifically or otherwise, with our current code of ethics in place.  What we need to be careful of is what political work we're doing with the statements we make about the way other people naturally are, want to be, choose to be, or any combination of the three.  Perhaps we need to be even more careful to make sure we agree with the political work that's being done by the voices we're aligning ourselves with.  I certainly don't want to align myself with voices that deny personal choice, whether they be pro or anti homosexuality, as I think there are voices on each side of the line that want to say that people don't (or shouldn't) choose the way they run their lives.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Lost One on January 20, 2007, 05:12:44 PM
Quote
Posted on: Yesterday at 11:55:56 PMPosted by: Armadius
The Lost 24 - The professor you mention is, as far as I know, mistaken. There is no evidence to suggest that social acceptance of homosexuality will cause an increase in the number of homosexuals. In fact, just to bring this back a little bit toward Brandon, I made the connection between homosexuality and the Shaod when I first read Elantris; both "strike" at random, regardless of one's station. Gay parents are no more likely to raise gay children than straight parents are; in fact, the first gay children must, quite obviously, have come from a straight couple.

Thank you for your response. I felt that professor was mistaken about many things however, as far as homosexuality striking at random, I agree. But with all due respect, the problem with social acceptance is that instead of helping those individuals who want to overcome sexual tendencies, they are forced to accept their homosexual tendencies. I believe that there are people with homosexual tendencies that can overcome them through support and counselling. I believe that a person does not have to be a homosexual. However, the current trend seems to be to encourage homosexual behavior rather than to provide help to those who want to overcome their homosexual tendencies.

In addition, your comments about the world being overpopulated is what I call a Malthusian Myth (Thomas Malthus was the economist who first predicted that the world would run out of food, off course, he thought that mass starvation would have occurred over two-hundred years ago). The world has plenty of resources and technology continues to improve how those resources can be used. Besides, a fertility rate of 2.1 is required to maintained a population and in places like Europe, Japan and China, the failure to maintain their populations is causing sever problems (such as too many senior citizens and not enough younger workers). Simply being a sperm donor or being fertile is not the same as actually have children.

As far as, HIV/AIDS, your numbers still do not change the fact that HIV/AIDS predominately afflicts homosexual. Now you have understated your numbers a little bit (the 2005 CDC study can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/At-A-Glance.htm), but that is beside the point. For what you claim is an activity that occurs behind close doors that doesn't affect anyone else, society has spent billions of dollars in government programs and research trying to find a "cure" for a disease that primarily afflict homosexuals. Although there has been significant spin-off research from studying HIV/AIDS, the funding for HIV/AIDS has stripped funding for research of diseases like heart disease (which afflicts a much larger portion of America).

In addition, I think Dragonfly's comment show that there is definitely an impact to families dealing with homosexuality. I've now quite a few families that have struggled when one member of the family turn towards a homosexual lifestyle.

In a society with limited resources, there is always trade-offs, and claiming that an activity that occurs behind close doors doesn't affect others well-beings is inaccurate. It not that I'm afraid that I will personally get HIV or AIDS, however, homosexuality has a significant social, political and economic toll.  Homosexuality is a social, political and economic issue and not merely a private matter.

I'm sorry if you take offense to my comments and I must say that I respect and appreciate your comments. I do believe, however, that there is more to consider in discussing homosexuality than just religious positions on the matter.

Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 21, 2007, 02:59:47 AM
MsFish - I wish I had more to say, other than thanks, and I agree for the most part.

24 - Alright... there are so many things wrong with what you just said that I don't know where to start. How about the beginning?

Yes, there are people who want to change, and arguably people who can. But would you mind explaining to me how on Earth a broadening social acceptance of homosexuality keeps people who do want to change from doing so? Acceptance isn't the same as encouragement. People who want to change will still be free to do so. Homosexuality isn't some oppressive regime that's trying to spread malignant influence. Acceptance would make my life easier, not Brandon's cousin's life more difficult.

Also, do you deny that the world is headed for the greatest energy crisis humankind has ever known? We're running out of oil, which is used to produce and operate the technology you claim can improve how we use resources that it turns out we don't even have. Besides, citing Malthus' error does not simply wave away the fact that we have a serious overpopulation problem. You speak of maintaining a population, but doing so perpetuates a major problem. You think that a population drop will make us less competitive, economically speaking? Try having an economy founded entirely upon a fuel source that's no longer available. Also, how is China having difficulty maintaining its population? It's the most overpopulated country in the world. My point about fertility and sperm donation was that gays do, indeed, contribute to the population. Your claim that they do not is unfounded.

As for HIV/AIDS, how dare you belittle such a pandemic? Yes, it does predominantly affect homosexuals - IN THE UNITED STATES. What about those in Africa, where AIDS is most prolific, who are experiencing a pandemic the likes of which you've probably never even imagined? You can bet most of them are not gay. It's unconscionable that you would try to use something as serious as AIDS as an argument for why homosexuality is wrong. This is all irrelevant, anyway, because the spread of STD's is easily avoided when proper precautions are observed.

But as long as we're going the route of diseases, what about everything spread by straight people? You keep bringing up heart disease, which you blame on genetics. Where do you think most genetic diseases come from? Not gays, whom you maintain can't reproduce. What does that leave? Straight people. I could use your own argument to suggest quite strongly that heterosexuality is a harmful behavior to society.

Also, Dragonfly's comment does indeed say that there's an effect on families coping with homosexuality. Did I ever say there wasn't? My own family went through something similar when I first came out to them. I think I've made it very clear that these are trials that ultimately benefit a family.

Furthermore, do you realize that you've gone from saying our society isn't experiencing a shortage of resources to saying we're a society with limited resources in a matter of three paragraphs? As well, telling me I'm wrong does little in the way of convincing me. You say homosexual practice is a significant matter that does affect you. How?

Also, the title implies that I'm talking about the religious implications of homosexuality; I never intended for this thread to stray so far off-topic. I do find your remarks offensive; I'm biting my tongue to keep back so many sarcastic, unkind comments right now. I didn't start this in an effort to get validation; I don't want to debate whether or not my sexuality is moral. I was only asking about the church's stance on the issue. As such, unless someone can steer the conversation back to where it came from, I don't think it has any place on this forum, and I won't be saying anything more.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on January 21, 2007, 06:37:13 AM
It's hardly an established fact that the world is overpopulated. There are areas of the world that are overpopulated, yes, but the world as a whole is not. The population is poorly distributed, and the resources are often poorly distributed, but there are plenty of uninhabited places in this country alone where people could live—driving cross-country will tell you that. If people would move there instead of wanting to live in the areas that make good farmland, resources could be spread around much better. The history of civilization is the history of developing infrastructures for resource allocation, and as needs arise ways to meet those needs will also arise. Now, there are areas of the world where good infrastructure has difficulty taking hold, but that's a political and cultural issue not directly tied to population numbers.

But anyway, I don't think population sustainability is significantly affected by this thread's secondary subject. And I can't think of anything about the Church's stance on this issue that hasn't already been said here.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on January 22, 2007, 02:43:24 PM
The book is not written for professionals in the field, but for people trying to cope with behavioral problems (particularly addictive ones) and want to find better ways of understanding. There are three primary examples, only one of which is sexual in nature (the other two are an eating disorder and drug addiction). I forgot to look at the author over the weekend. I will try to remember tonight or tomorrow.

Also, do you deny that the world is headed for the greatest energy crisis humankind has ever known? We're running out of oil, which is used to produce and operate the technology you claim can improve how we use resources that it turns out we don't even have. Besides, citing Malthus' error does not simply wave away the fact that we have a serious overpopulation problem. You speak of maintaining a population, but doing so perpetuates a major problem. You think that a population drop will make us less competitive, economically speaking? Try having an economy founded entirely upon a fuel source that's no longer available. Also, how is China having difficulty maintaining its population? It's the most overpopulated country in the world. My point about fertility and sperm donation was that gays do, indeed, contribute to the population. Your claim that they do not is unfounded.
I do. This prediction has been made by many, many more people. It has come true approximately the same number of times that predictions about the Second Coming of Christ have. ie, 0. 40 years ago we were told we had about 30 years. Well... that didn't pan out did it?

It's an economic fact that there are problems that accompany a drop in reproduction rate. A smaller portion of the population contributes to production, thus supply decreases, raising inflation. This can be quite severe over a long period of time.

The gay contribution to the population exists, true, but at a significantly lower rate than heterosexual contribution.

As for a loss of fossil fuels, yes, there's a finite amount. But there are already replacements being developed and there's insufficient evidence that we are very near a true oil shortage. Did you know there are *vast* reserves of oil? Saudi oil barons are fond of saying that when the last barrel of oil is pulled fromt he ground, it will not be the last barrel of oil in Arabia. They have looked to their own economic welfare (how they treat the poor is another matter) and made sure that when the day comes that they can no longer produce oil, they will still have plenty to sell.

As for HIV/AIDS, how dare you belittle such a pandemic?
I didn't feel it was belittled. I think you are being much too aggressive.  Lost 24 didn't say anything that was anti-gay. He simply brought up very real concerns that should be addressed. Whether the implied conclusion is correct, maybe not. But that doesn't mean the issue should be brushed aside because it "belittles" something.

But as long as we're going the route of diseases, what about everything spread by straight people? You keep bringing up heart disease, which you blame on genetics. Where do you think most genetic diseases come from? Not gays, whom you maintain can't reproduce. What does that leave? Straight people. I could use your own argument to suggest quite strongly that heterosexuality is a harmful behavior to society.
The comparison does not hold. His point is not about gays spreading disease, it's about how the spread of the disease spreads resources that could be used for other purposes. A society *must* reproduce to survive. Thus genetic problems are an absolutely necessary complication if we want to continue the society. This overrides any other concerns.

Furthermore, do you realize that you've gone from saying our society isn't experiencing a shortage of resources to saying we're a society with limited resources in a matter of three paragraphs? As well, telling me I'm wrong does little in the way of convincing me. You say homosexual practice is a significant matter that does affect you. How?[/url]
1) he went from saying we aren't experiencing a shortage of *natural* resources to an insufficient set of resources for curing epidemics. These are significantly different, and your deliberate confusion of the two doesn't help. If we want to discuss this intelligently, we need to argue the facts, not confusions.
2) Both of his posts went into a lot of detail about how homosexuality affects the general populace.

You've also said that acceptance does not mean encouragement. But in a way it does. For good or ill, an accepted behavior will be come more prominent, because there is nothing to DIScourage it.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Robert_Boyd on January 22, 2007, 06:36:26 PM
Personally, the way I look at the whole genetics/upbringing issue is to look at singing.  Yeah, some people have a natural talent.  However, anyone can choose to take active steps towards improving their singing by practicing, hiring experience singing coaches, etc.  Likewise, our genetics and upbringing results in us having various attributes, some desirable and some undesirable, but it's a personal decision whether or not we chose to develop those those attributes we find desirable and fight against those attributes we find undesirable or just do what comes easy.

As for the whole love thing, despite what popular media may tell us, love is a verb.  Whether or not you decide to love someone can be an active decision.  Jesus taught us to love our enemies; obviously if love is something that just happens to us this commandment would be impossible.  To give a few examples:

I spent 2 years as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Taiwan.  Now there is a rule that says that missionaries can't date while they're serving a mission.  So for 2 years, dating was out of the question for me.  Now during those 2 years, I saw individuals who under normal circumstances I would have enjoyed dating.  However, because I knew that was impossible without breaking rules, I made a conscious decision to not to fall in romantic love with anyone.  And you know what?  It worked.  Likewise, a husband or a wife can make a conscious decision not to fall in love with anyone aside from their spouse and if they truly mean it, they won't.  They may look at an individual, think for a second that they're attractive, and that's as far and as long as it goes, because they've made a conscious choice to act and think in that manner.

I read in a book recently about a man who said that he was no longer in love with his wife and so he went to a psychologist for advice.  The advice given?  "Love her."  The man argued that since that was precisely the problem, how could he love her?  The psychologist then explained that feelings of love naturally arise when we do acts of love.  Simply put, the verb love leads to the noun love.  If you don't have feelings of love for your wife, then do more acts of love for her (listen to her, talk to her, do nice things for her) and the feelings of love will naturally follow.

I think the main thing I want to get across here is that one of the fundamental beliefs of the LDS religion is that people are free to chose their actions.  There are many things in life that we have no control over, however we're always free to chose how we respond to events that happen to us.  Not only are we free to chose our actions, but we are also free to chose how we think as well; not perfectly perhaps, but when a thought comes to us, we are free to dwell on that thought or to banish it.  Yes, homosexuality may have a genetic aspect to it that makes it easier for some individuals to be homosexual, but even in those cases, the individuals still have freedom to decide whether or not they wish to dwell on those homosexual thoughts and act on those thoughts or whether they won't.  Aside from the seriously handicapped (I'm thinking vegetables here), everyone is responsible for their own thoughts and actions.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Sigyn on January 22, 2007, 09:20:29 PM
Huh.  We've gone from being a discussion about religion to mainly a discussion about homosexuality. The LDS Church has specific views on homosexuality: don't practice it. That about sums it up. If you do, then you are choosing to no longer be a member of good standing. That is an individual's choice. As Armadius is not a member of the LDS Church, his views and actions are not going to be dictated by it. I don't think anyone needs to be offended by what other people are saying on this thread because I don't think people are trying to be offensive.  It seems to me that they are trying to bring up alternative ideas which may or may not be correct but which are out there and are believed by a large number of people.  I think Armadius is wrong.  I'm sure he thinks I'm wrong too.  But I'm glad that we are able to have this discussion and at least come to understand each other's views better.  It may not change what we think but I hope it will make us at least more aware of the issues.

So many people have stereotypical views.  This appllies to both homosexuality and the LDS Church. It makes me glad that people on this forum are at least trying to overcome some of those views and gain a greater understanding.  The LDS Church really values knowledge, and that means knowledge of everything (though that doesn't imply first-hand experience knowledge).  Brigham Young, an early LDS prophet, said that it was important for the LDS people to know about good and bad.  The more knowledge we have, the more ground we have to base our opinions on. One of the things I try to do as a writer is explore different ideas both because this is interesting to me and because I hope it helps me understand these ideas better. On the other hand, there are issues that interest my husband that don't interest me which makes it difficult for us to have discussions about it (like last night he wanted to discuss the ideas of when a spirit enters a human body: at conception? at birth? sometime in the womb? This wasn't something I wanted to talk about at all because I didn't think discussion would help us come to any answers and because, having had babies, I don't like talking about what happens to stillborns.  It makes me too sad!).  Maybe this is why I don't write Mormon fiction.  I think I've gone off the point.

It seems to me that a lot of people think the LDS are insular and not willing to discuss doctrine.  This forum should make it obvious that isn't the case, though there are individuals this way.  That's probably true of any group. I know I have the choice to follow my religion and its tenets or to not.  I don't follow blindly, and I don't think most of the people I know follow blindly either.  We want to learn and we want to know more, though not everyone is open to everything.

Armadius, are there any other questions you have about the LDS religion?  Perhaps if you can state them specifically, we can bring this thread a bit more on topic.

(And totally off topic, if you really think the world has a population problem then visit southern Utah. The problem is, no one wants to live there.  People want to live in places like New York and San Francisco where there is a lot to do and a lot to see which may be why people who live in such places have such an easy time believing in world over-population. Sorry.)
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Aen Elderberry on January 23, 2007, 02:06:05 AM
2)  What about all the people who aren't of your religion?  They go to hell because they happened to live at the wrong time, when there were no missionaries to teach them?

<snip>

So, no.  I don't believe that good people who never accepted LDS teachings will go to hell.  Will mother Teresa go to Hell?  Of course not.  I well nigh think that things will be better for her in the eternities than they might be for me, unless I shape up. 

:) I think she'll be better off than most of us mormons. 

I thought I'd go back to one of EUOL's earlier points.  I thought that President Boyd K. Packer's recent comments while introducing a respected Muslim and Indonesian government leader, Alwi Shihab, relates to this conversation.

http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=11324&x=56&y=3

Among other things he says:

We believe that "the great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God's light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals." ("Statement of the First Presidency regarding God's Love for All Mankind," February 15, 1978)

It may sound a bit condescending to say "all those other folks have part of the truth" but we would be following one of them if we didn't think we had at least a bit more.   But even saying that we claim to have "at least a bit more" is, I think, not quite accurate.  It's more a matter of what is most important and relevant to our current situation.   Seems to me that any system suffers the inevitable effects of entropy and thus the LDS emphasis on continuing revelation to wind us up again and give us the frequently needed course corrections.

Also this address is interesting:  President Faust talks about  "What Makes Our Religion Different?"  http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,2043-1-1110-1,00.html

And this one:   World Religions (Non-Christian) and Mormonism   -  http://ldsfaq.byu.edu/emmain.asp?number=202

From the Book of Mormon:  "the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil."  (Moroni 7:16)

We claim no monopoly on its guidance.  Everyone has it.  We claim more direct guidance as well, but basically everyone on earth is entitled to God's guidance.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: precious-jules on January 24, 2007, 04:34:31 AM
Quote
but the simple fact is that we live in an overpopulated country on an overpopulated planet


Actually not entirely accurate. You believe this because you live in Massachusetts. ;)  Drive from your home to the west coast and try telling me the world is overpopulated. I made that trip when I was eighteen and moving to Northboro, MA from Utah. I will spare you the same miserable trip and give you statistical information. If you took every single man woman and child on the earth today and gave them each individually an acre of land, they would fit within the North American continent with  room to spare. The North American Continent is only 16% of the land mass of the world. The world is full and there is enough in resources to support a growing population for many thousands of years. Even landfill sites are reclaimed by the earth and magically transformed into useful land. Never underestimate a world that works.

As far as the rest of the conversation, I enjoy the debate without the mud slinging. I appreciate how diverse the conversation remains without getting ugly. My brother is/was? gay. He brought home his boyfriends all that during his teenage years and into his adulthood. He is now almost forty. We were not raised in a religious home, so that never came into play. I am a Mormon, but I'm a convert so my upbringing is a little different. God was only mentioned in my house when Dad hit his thumb with a hammer. I appreciated Brandon's thoughts on Why Mormonism.  My conversion was one of all those things mentioned: Logic, feelings, common sense, resonance . . . but there were tangible aspects to my conversion as well. 

As an interesting aside, my brother has a girlfriend now. None of us have any idea what happened with the girlfriend, we're entirely baffled by her presence, but we all know he "became" gay, ,he had no prior tendencies . . . he readily admits this. He was on drugs as an early teen. His supplier was an older man who traded drugs for favors, and Robert become caught up in a lifestyle. 

the nurture/nature issue is interesting to me based on his experiences and so I've enjoyed this thread. I personally believe (which means nothing to anyone but me) that we've each been given our weaknesses. I think a lot of our happiness in this world depends upon how we choose to act upon those weaknesses. I come up pretty poorly some days, but i'm hoping to ultimately overcome all my weaknesses. I think the people who experience the most joy are those who manage to gain full control over themselves.  I shudder when I think on the girl I might have been, had it not been for a little self mastery when my weaknesses bared their ugly teeth. I shudder further still at the times I gave in to them.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on January 24, 2007, 01:28:56 PM
Time for a new perspective.

[Disclaimer:  My intention is not to offend anyone, just to add a new perspective.  That said, some of this could easily come across as offensive, particularly my insouciant way of talking about sensitive subjects.  If you don't like what I have to say, feel free to ignore it—at the cost of your own potential ignorance.  If you just don't like my tone, please forgive me and laugh.  Really, I have a dry sense of humour…]

I'm a history student, so that's my specialty.  I've read several books on the History of the Family, because it interests me.  I love social and cultural history… anyway, enough intro.

Your discussion ignores millenia of history.  Let me explain:

Marriage, for most of history (= the written past), and presumably for ALL of prehistory (which is quite a long time for those who don't believe in a young earth), was usually based on factors other than love.  Often those getting married had no say at all.  Often they had some say, but not absolute.  On rare occasions, they could choose what they wanted.  In all three of these cases, economic, reproductive, and family connections were the primary reasons for marriage.  I could cite countless examples, but I hope you can take this one on faith.  Love was sometimes taken into account in choosing a marriage partner.  Often it was not.  Even when it was, it was rarely the determining factor.  There was no point in marrying for love if your children would starve to death (how loving).

By now, you may be thinking "how cruel and oppressive those people were!  How good it is we're more enlightened now!"  Studying history, however, might change your mind.  Marriage served a function.  Roman political candidates were regularly asked about whether or not they had entered into marriage with the intention of raising children.  It's hard for Americans to understand this, but who you married could make or break you and your entire family for the rest of your life.  And after that it would seriously affect your children.  As a rule, people married for reasons that made a lot of sense in a lot of non-emotional ways.  It's important to realize, however, that a great many people fell in love during their marriage.  This still frequently happens in arranged marriages.

Homosexuality has also been generally universally condemned historically.  Why do you think this is, if it's clearly harmless to society?  Homosexuals have just had rotten luck?  People have been cruel and evil for all of history, and are suddenly enlightened now?  I don't want to press this point, but I'm simply talking about universality.  If you study enough, you'll start to pick out that certain behaviors are advantageous, and certain are not.  Homosexuality, as a behavior, had nothing beneficial to offer over heterosexuality.  That said, that's never stopped a lot of people.  People still bing drink, though the benefits are scant.  People still commit suicide; hardly an advantageous decision.  I may sound cold, but realize that I'm only approaching this in the context of function at the moment.  Love served an important function—to draw individuals closely together in a way that will make them work better together in various contexts.  Sexual love was functionally significant in child-raising.  Love between family and friends and "coworkers" was important for various other reasons.  Some times people didn't quite get the right emotions in the right relationships, and this was maladaptive in an evolutionary sense.

"What about the Greeks?!"  One may cry.  Well, yes, many (though certainly not all—Plato put homosexuality in the same category as incest) Greeks praised homosexuality.  Generally speaking, however, this came in the form of pederasty (other forms were much less common).  So, yes, many Greeks thought homosexuality was great—generally the same Greeks who thought that having sex with children was great.

Life has changed.  Marriage has taken on whole new meanings these days.  The "Companionate Marriage" is common, and many feel that there should not be any distinction between concubinage and marriage and civil unions.  What to do with that, I can't tell you.  I'm not a sociologist.  But this wasn't really an issue historically.  And for some people today, it still isn't.  You can have a perfectly satisfying life (if records are any sign) without making love pivotal to your life.  You can get married, have children, and be happy.  You can also be perfectly happy without ever drinking (though the French would never believe it).  You can even be happy without ever being able to speak.  Helen Keller was quite outspoken on this.  Now, don't take this the wrong way; it applies to me.  I really, really, really want to get married.  I've been engaged for over two years, and not being willing to shack up with my fiancée or anything before we're married, this is very, very frustrating to me.  I recently realized, however, that I was being stupid about it, and making myself unhappy—I was choosing to focus on my desire to be with her.  You can argue that love is something I just can't control, or you can argue it isn't.  I don't care.  I'm deeply in love with her, and that's not going to change.  But I can shift my focus.  Make my relationship with her less important in comparison to, say, my writing.  It's not what I want, but man, I find that by shifting my focus, my life is now both more fulfilling and much happier.

And, shockingly, some people manage to be quite happy while celibate.  Hard to believe, eh?  Maybe these people were born asexual.  I don't know.  Maybe they're just deluding themselves, or they don't realize what they're missing—but then, what kind of a bigot would judge other people's current happiness on moral grounds like that, right?

I'm not talking about causes here, or choice of orientation.  I'm not interested in it.  I'm not talking about psychology; that's my fiancée's specialty (seeing as she's getting her degree in Psychology in one of the most respected Psych programs in the world this May).  I'm talking about history, and how we might just fit into it, or apply some of its lessons to ourselves.  I'm not going to tell you if you can change how you feel about this or that person—that's your job (or a psychologist's).

From my personal perspective, I just don't see the function of homosexuality.  What does it do for its practicioners?  How does it give them an emotional/competetive/social/mental/spiritual/evolutionary/scientific/etc. edge?

This may seem awefully cold, but I like to think it's fairly rational.  But then, I've a little experience with love, myself.  I believe that, for someone with self mastery, love is ultimately a choice.  You choose to love, or to stop loving someone.  If you're smart, you can figure out how to never fall out of love, or how to fall in love with someone again.  At the same time, you can choose to stop loving, or choose to love again.  I'm not going to pretend like it's easy.  It usually isn't.  But choosing love is something that can, and must be, done, for (most of) those who wish to always love faithfully.  This concept is arguably at the core of Christianity, but that's a whole other discussion.

So that's my 2¢.  I hope it's something you haven't considered before.  I have few delusions, and I certainly don't expect to change anyone's mind on anything they feel strongly about.  But I hope you feel a little better informed now, and have a greater perspective on things.  I really don't want to get into an argument, so if  you're about to, stop.  You can provide a different perspective, but I really hate arguing; an awful lot of experience has taught me that people generally don't change their minds, even (especially?) when they've been soundly thrashed in the mental arena.

Feel free to discuss whether or not people can choose to love in another thread.  That's not a matter of history, and is terribly philosophical, so I figure it's fair game.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on January 24, 2007, 05:57:47 PM
Thanks for your commeents, JK.

Just an FYI though, I don't think that the discussion of origins of homosexuality or the degree of choice is out of place. In fact, I don't think i've seen a truly off topic remark yet. Amazing for a forum that is liberal about allowing the topics to wander.

Part of the reason loveless arranged marriages worked, though, is because the partners found romance, physically and emotionally, elsewhere. It may have been officially incorrect, but many people still practiced adultery. This didn't ruin the marriage because an arranged marriage, where the partners didn't fall in love eventually, wasn't expected to truly have fidelity or devotion. As long as it produced offspring. I don't think this invalidates what you've said, but I do think that it adds a complication to the certainty of your conclusion.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Aen Elderberry on January 24, 2007, 06:31:09 PM
Note: I know of at least one LDS author who has done a very respectful book series with a gay man as a main protagonist.  Tracy Hickman (with Margaret)'s Rose of the Prophet books.  Might not work for a person who is actually gay, but I found the depiction to be very well done.

Armadius,

Tracy Hickman also wrote The Immortals.   http://www.amazon.com/Immortals-Tracy-Hickman/dp/0451454049/sr=8-1/qid=1169659425/ref=sr_1_1/103-0145897-0301471?ie=UTF8&s=books

"It's 2010, and an attempted cure for AIDS has mutated into a deadlier disease, V-CIDS. The U.S., under martial law, has set up "quarantine centers" in the Southwest. Searching for his gay son, Jon, media mogul Michael Barris smuggles himself into one of centers only to discover that it and the other centers are actually extermination camps."

I don't think it addresses the morality of the homosexual lifestyle but it definitely addresses how we mistreat people that we disagree with.  It's quite dark and gritty, for my tastes, but I thought it was a good book.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Aen Elderberry on January 24, 2007, 08:10:45 PM
The advice given?  "Love her."  The man argued that since that was precisely the problem, how could he love her?  The psychologist then explained that feelings of love naturally arise when we do acts of love.  Simply put, the verb love leads to the noun love.

I liked Robert_Boyd's comments and thought I'd expand on the idea of being able to choose actions and even thoughts that deviate from ones urges.

Common to most world religions, Mormonism included, is the idea of self-denial.  Joy comes to us from controlling our appetites and passions, not being controlled by them.  Control of thoughts is central to self-control, i.e. buddhist concept of taming the monkey mind.  Some go to the extreme, in my opinion, of total denial of passions and bodily needs.  Such a view is as extreme as those who totally indulge.  But joy and peace do come from mastering the flesh, conquering oneself.  (Much easier in theory than in practice.)  Those that follow their appetites where ever they lead typically are lead to pain and suffering.  Unbridled indulgence always leads to a hangover of some sort though we don't always recognize what caused the hangover.

Too often we practice self-mastery in the negative sense, a denial of pleasure, rather than a more positive view of being free of the chains of addiction and free to follow the things that bring us joy.  For example, it's easier for me to indulge myself in some minor "enjoyment" like watching a movie than it is to "force myself" to write, which usually brings me feelings of contentment or a sense of accomplishment or even  joy.

Do you want pleasure?  or Joy?
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on January 24, 2007, 11:20:50 PM
I don't think Armadius is reading this thread anymore, and the longer this goes on the more it looks like preaching to the choir.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: dawncawley on January 25, 2007, 02:28:33 AM
I don't think that he isn't reading this thread, but he did say he would no longer reply unless it was returned to the original track. I believe after the last couple of posts we may hear from him again.

Just as an observer in this discussion, not having anything really new to add before, I wanted to say that I thought this was the most civil discussion of delicate topics I have ever seen. Even when there were disagreements. Thank you to everyone involved for proving that it can be done.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on January 25, 2007, 04:34:43 AM
So, regarding the religious implications of homosexuality, we have to ask ourselves two questions:

What is the purpose of sexual love in human life?  [note:  if it's not sexual, I don't consider it homosexuality.  I'll leave the definition of "sexual" up to you, however]

What is the purpose of religion?
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 25, 2007, 06:34:21 AM
(Please forgive me if this is poorly phrased; I'm both sick and exhausted, a combination which never lends itself to lucidity.)

Okay, I know I said I wouldn't be responding anymore, but it seems some people really want to hear more. I'm not going to address the points about overpopulation, energy usage, or AIDS; I absolutely laothe discussions that get down to facts and figures. On top of that, both are topics which I find to be even more controversial in many ways than homosexuality is. My feelings on the way all three are handled are very strong, and I don't think the discussion would remain civil for much longer, were we to continue debating them. I have much more to say, but I'd rather not say it. I think there's a mutual understanding that I believe most (if not all) of you are wrong, and you probably feel the same way about me; let's just leave it at that.  This thread started as a question about morality, and I'd rather have it steered back that way.

That said, I'll address the on-topic points that have been made.  Also, please keep in mind that I'm using "homosexuality" with the blanket meaning it has adopted; I do not mean to limit my statement exclusively to either sexuality or emotions, unless otherwise noted.

Robert_Boyd - I agree entirely on the genetics/singing analogy. People are born with an inclination towards a certain sexuality, be it bi-, hetero-, or homo-. This can be denied or ignored, and thus not developed or further discovered. For example, had I not bothered considering my sexuality more closely, I may very well never have taken notice of the fact that I'm gay, or how this affects me. Similarly, because I did make that examination, I've developed to the point where I can make very confident statements about my orientation and how it affects me. But keep in mind, just as an innately talented singer cannot reasonably turn a good voice into a bad one, a gay man cannot simply erase the homosexual leanings he has. At best, a singer can allow his/her voice to fall into disrepair; in the same way, a gay man can at most ignore his sexuality to the point where it is neither practiced nor explored.

I disagree, though, with the insinuation that love can be forced. This is something that, again, is unable to be proved by science, due to the highly subjective nature of emotions, but it's my belief that love cannot be forced. Encouraged, perhaps, but it's not something that can be made to exist. I admit I'm relatively inexperienced in this area, having been in love only once before and that for a very brief period of time, but I don't think the extreme emotional connection I established with the boy I loved was forced, nor could it ever have been. It existed from the beginning, but was just undiscovered for a while. Performing acts of love can help reveal this connection. The story you reference is most likely a similar situation, in my opinion; the man did not love his wife because the connection he had with her had lain dormant for so long that he lost track of it. It existed from the beginning, but was somehow obscured. Far be it from me to second guess somebody's personal experience, but that's my interpretation. I don't think it's possible to fall in love with just anybody. That's not to say I endorse the "soul mate" theory, but I believe there are intrinsicly stronger connections between some people than between others.

And you've actually touched on one of the main things that perplexes me about this whole issue. Homosexual urges are there for a reason - yes, it's true that we can opt to act on them or opt not to, but they are present either way. If you believe homosexuality is not a choice, then I can't quite make sense of this - the God you've placed such faith in sees fit to instill homosexual urges in somebody, but these urges are less fit to act upon the heterosexual urges. Would anybody care to explain?

Sigyn - I shudder to think what kind of response this will provoke, but I'm a bit hazy on the history regarding one more issue I'd like to ask about. What, exactly, happened to so sharply reverse the pro-polygamy views your church once had?

Precious-jules - The story you've told about your brother could be another example of how experiences during developmental phases of life can heavily affect sexuality. If your brother admits that he never had any natural homosexual urges, it's probably true. The fact that he needed to perform homosexual acts to satisfy an addiction could very easily muddle the already complicated issue of sexuality. This is another situation where it's important to distinguish between sexuality and love, though - I'm willing to bet your brother has never nor would ever fall in love with another man.

The Jade Knight - Both of your posts will be addressed in another post in this thread. My mind isn't working clearly enough right now to give them the thought they deserve. Check back some time tomorrow.

SaintEhlers - I think the dicussion did stray very much from its original subject. I asked about Mormonism, and we wound up debating AIDS and overpopulation. The two are not the same.

Hauf - This is a big debate I've had many times before. We can have it somewhere else if you want (another thread or personal messages), but to sum up my views on it...

Peace and joy come from mastering the flesh. This is true, but I mean it in an entirely different sense. I believe sexuality exists within people not only for reproductive purposes. Sex is a pleasurable, joyous, and in many ways peaceful act which is practiced for more purpose than just to conceive a child. This strays dangerously close to justifying promiscuity (which I am not doing), but mastery of all aspects of humanity is what leads to ultimate peace, joy, and happiness. It involves celebrating both the fact that we have pleasurable physical urges and abilities, and also the fact that we have the capacity to control them (to a certain degree) if we so desire.

Ookla - I am still reading. You can thank Hauf for dragging me back.

Dawncawley - I'm glad this is pleasing to you. I hate uncivil discussions as much as all of you do; I appreciate the lack of conversion attempts and blatant "you're wrong" statements very profoundly. You're all making me dislike Mormonism much less than I did before I came here.

Also, Hauf, thanks very much for the book recommendation. That looks very interesting, and I'll try to find a copy at Barnes & Noble when I next stop by.

There we go. My head is spinning like a dreidel. I hope at least some of this made sense; I'll edit tomorrow if necessary.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on January 25, 2007, 09:40:10 AM
A quick note:  Non-sexual homosexuality was not recognized as having existed in most historical cultures, as far as records are able to ascertain.  Homosexuality was sexual.  No one cared how men felt about eachother, just whether or not they acted homosexually.

So, for your responses to me, please keep this perspective in mind.  In addition, modern readers, in reading ancient accounts of same-gender (non-homosexual) affection, are likely to entirely mistake affection in other ages (I remember a Wikipedia article which contained such confusion)…
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: 42 on January 25, 2007, 04:26:30 PM
Though I will probably regret this later, I feel like taking a shot at the whole "What is the purpose of religion?" question. According to many anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists, the purpose of religion is said to be providing hope to people. The theory is that there are numerous aspects of human existence that are likely to never be answered by science. Things like what happens to people when they die or what is the purpose of life type questions. The philosophical basis for science is not really designed to address those sort of issues because they deal with intangible and unmeasurable aspects of life. Not that there aren't scientist who do try to answer those questions. Psychologists (Jung and Freud being good examples) have tried to answer these sorts of issues. Course, Jung is often written off as being a mystic by many contemporary psychologists, and Freud is perhaps the most debunked psychologists of all time (most of their theories simply cannot be scientifically proven).

There is the branch of psychology, called existential psychology, that attempts to address issues such as death and giving meaning to life. Again, it deals with non-scientific methods to answer these questions. However, it has taught a lot of behavioral scientists that having strong religious beliefs are a part of human existence.

From my own experience working with people with mental illnesses and from the testimonies of many social workers and therapits: people with mental illnesses that are not religious do not get better. That may not be completely reliable, but it does seem that non-religious people have more mental health problems and they recover from those problems much more slowly if they recover at all.

So there seems to be a lot a logic in say that religion is about hope. Course there is also a lot of debate about the role of organized religion versus individual practice.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on January 25, 2007, 04:53:25 PM
I think, Armadius, you have a very fuzzy definition of "being in love" versus "loving" someone. You can most certainly choose to love someone. Based on personal experience, I honestly don't think that "being in love" is any sort of state other than that which comes from loving and caring for someone (ie the state arises from the action) . And any emotion that was based on a non-willing response has always been weaker than the love I have chosen to bestow. This holds true for all of the loving relationships I have: my brothers and sister, my parents, grandparents, my wife, my kids, my ex-girlfriends, infatuations, etc.

So... that I can further understand your position, please explain to me what you mean when you say things like "being in love" or "falling in love." Or even what love is.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on January 25, 2007, 08:51:38 PM
Quote
I'm not going to address the points about overpopulation, energy usage, or AIDS; I absolutely loathe discussions that get down to facts and figures.
Frankly, so do I, but there comes a point in a discussion at which if you are unable to back up your claims, it makes them pretty much meaningless. If all we do is say "X is the truth," "No, X is false, Y is the truth," "Nuh-uh, X is the truth and I know I'm right!" then there's no point in discussing at all. And unless I'm mistaken, you brought up energy and overpopulation first.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Sigyn on January 25, 2007, 10:03:29 PM
Woo hoo!  Let's talk about polygamy!

A lot of LDS people hate this subject.  I bring it up with my sister whenever I want to make her mad. Historically, this is polygamy in brief.

Polygamy started during Joseph Smith's (our first latter-day prophet) time.  Exactly when is hazy and to what extent is also hazy. Records aren't clear.  It didn't come to it's codified form until Brigham Young and the move to Utah (1847). Opinions vary on how many people actually practiced polygamy. I've heard anything from 3% to 90%. All I know is that all of my ancestors who were church members and alive at this time (meaning the second half of the 19th century) were polygamists. The US government passed a law outlawing polygamy and even co-habitation (so people couldn't just live together in polygamous relationships even if they weren't legally married). They started enforcing this in the 1860s after the Civil War. Civil rights were suspended for anyone who practiced polygamy or even believed in it. Mormons weren't allowed to sit on juries or vote. Women were forced to testify against their husbands. All church property was confiscated by the federal government.

It was pretty harsh. The men were either arrested or forced into hiding and many of the women also went into hiding to avoid having to testify against their husbands. This went on until 1890 when Wilford Woodruff, then president of the church, received a revelation that the church members had done enough and it wasn't in God's plan for the church to continue on when it would mean losing everything they had built so far. The exact revelation is in our Doctrine and Covenants, but I'm terrible at hyperlinks, so if someone else could put in a link to this I would be hugely grateful.

A lot of people had sacrificed for polygamy and had a lot of trouble with having to give it up. Several groups broke off from the Church, forming the various fundamentalist groups that are so prevalent in southern Utah. Others thought that polygamy was just stopped in the US and still practiced it in Mexico and Canada. The last church approved polygamous marriage happened around 1910. After that, it was clearly stated that the church was to stop all polygamous marriages (though those already made still stayed intact). One of our apostles was excommunicated because he wouldn't stop performing polygamous marriages.

At this point, if a church member practices polygamy, he or she is excommunicated.  It's pretty simple. The issue can be muddied for some people because some people outside of the LDS church still think of fundamentalists as being part of the LDS church.  They aren't.

That's probably more than you wanted to know, but if you do want more, just ask.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Skar on January 25, 2007, 10:43:40 PM
Quote
And you've actually touched on one of the main things that perplexes me about this whole issue. Homosexual urges are there for a reason - yes, it's true that we can opt to act on them or opt not to, but they are present either way. If you believe homosexuality is not a choice, then I can't quite make sense of this - the God you've placed such faith in sees fit to instill homosexual urges in somebody, but these urges are less fit to act upon the heterosexual urges. Would anybody care to explain?

I'll give it a shot.

Point one, the LDS church cannot be categorized as believing that "homosexuality is not a choice." Whether it's one way or the other is not a matter of doctrine.  In the end, I don't think it matters.

So, the root question you seem to be asking is really, Why would God give us urges that are not fit to act on?  The answer is, very simply, so we can learn to control them.  The question applies to all urges, whether they be physical, mental, or spiritual.  We must learn to control our responses to these urges so that we can truly have the power of choice over them. 

An ideal example of this is smoking.  Smoking is addictive.  If you never give in to peer pressure, or whatever is urging you to smoke, your choices remain open.  You have no trouble not smoking but you could also start tomorrow if you wanted.  If you do get addicted, your choices become more difficult.  You can easily choose to smoke, but not smoking isn't easy anymore.

Our lives are not so ideal, obviously. One chooses to smoke in the first place but nobody chooses to want to steal.  We're all, probably, born with urges to act in ways that God has forbidden.  These could be anything from the urge to punch rude people in the nose to feelings of sexual love for members of the same sex.  We don't all have the same urges.  In mormonism we believe that God has given each of us challenges in this life that are precisely designed to teach us what we need to know before moving on to the next. 

I myself have some trouble seeing how this plays out.  What exactly do children born into physically abusive homes have to learn from that?  I don't know. 

But, the principle is a sound one.  Our challenges teach us things as we work through them.  And I don't think that someone who acts on urges in ways that I happen to think God has forbidden is just blowing it either.  From what you've said, you've learned a lot from working with your homosexual urges and your discourse in this thread shows that you are, at the least, far more mature than most of the 16 year olds I have known.  Which brings us back to the concept that Brandon introduced.  That each of us will be judged according to our understanding of the truth.   

Far be it from me to decide what another person is supposed to learn from their life.  I have enough trouble with my own.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 25, 2007, 11:56:14 PM
The Jade Knight - Sorry this is taking so long, but it may have to wait until tomorrow. I've got oodles of homework tonight, and I just have time for a quick post right now.

SaintEhlers - You ask a very, very, very complicated question. It's not really something I can put into words, and my guess is that my view of the whole matter is entirely different than yours. I consider love to be an entirely different feeling than any other; romantic love is a sort of emotional closeness that isn't achievable with any relationship other than that between romantic partners. It's possible to love friends, but I consider this to be a different connection as well; as I said earlier, I love some of my friends, but I'm not in love with them. Being in love is having found this connection; falling in love is the process of discovering it. Again, it's hard to explain because love is such a wholly subjective concept. I hope that helps.

Ookla - You're mistaken. The Lost 24 raised these issues; I just responded to them. Regardless, I'd still rather not debate them.

Sigyn - That's actually exactly what I was looking for. Thanks a lot. If there's more you feel like adding, I'd be happy to hear it.

Skar - I can respect this view, even if I don't necessarily agree with it. I still don't think there is much logic behind it. After all, what I've gained so far from my experiences has been gleaned by accepting the orientation with which I was born, not by denying it. I think that denying something that is so central to who I am would only lead to an unhealthy lack of self-understanding and a discomfort with myself. There is certainly something to be gained from homosexuality, but it's something entirely different than you're suggesting. And thanks again for the compliment.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on January 26, 2007, 12:53:02 AM
Ookla - You're mistaken. The Lost 24 raised these issues; I just responded to them. Regardless, I'd still rather not debate them.
No, he did not. The Lost 24 said homosexuality did not contribute toward maintaining population. You are the one who brought up overpopulation, and you were the first one to say anything at all about energy in this thread. Please don't bring things up if you don't want to talk about them.

This thread was better when there were direct responses with a better post ratio. When too many unanswered posts piled up, the thoroughness of the eventual replies took a major nosedive. Of course you have been otherwise engaged and battling illness, but at times a partial, cursory response can come off as less satisfying than no response.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: HornedToad on January 26, 2007, 01:01:03 AM
2)  Logic.

I don't like to talk ill about other religions.  To be honest, there are wonderful things in each and every religion I've studied--and, as a writer, I like to read about religions and learn about their teachings.  Also, as I said above, I don't think you can prove religion with arguments.  Only God can prove whether a religion is true or not.

However, there are some things, logically, about Mormonism that just make SENSE to me.  I served a mission for the Church, and during that mission, I taught about what I believed.  There were several questions that people would ask that I haven't found sufficient answers to in any other Christian religion.  Two of the biggest of these were:

1)  How can you believe in God when there is so much suffering in the world.
2)  What about all the people who aren't of your religion?  They go to hell because they happened to live at the wrong time, when there were no missionaries to teach them?

Question Two:

LDS doctrine is one of the only world religion which includes serious, powerful provisions for the benefit of those who never learn of Christ. 


I'd just like to mention that Christianity also has reasonable answers to both of those questions also.  There is not necessary *accepted* Church doctrine for all of Christianity, but there is definitely *potential* answers to those individual questions, specifically in the apologetical circles.

1a.  This is the typical problem of evil question.  If we are not talking about natural evil(i.e. natural disasters), then the common view is that there must be a great enough Good to justify all the evil that is in the world.  Typically that is viewed as mankind's free will.  Because God is allowing Man free will for both good and evil, the benefits of that free will and all the acts of love, kindness, selflessness, friendship, community etc. outweigh the negative effect of giving Man the free will to engage in evil.

1b.  Natural evil is a harder question and less clear cut, but the typical answer to that also generally involves free will and God giving us dominion over the earth.  I won't dwell on this since it is typically less argued.

2.  I would think/hope that most educated Christians do not simply say that because missionaries never preached to the Native Americans for thousands of years then all of those Native Americans were destined to hell.  There are several possible solutions to this problem that are discussed, one is counterfacturals as you mentioned: if someone WOULD have accepted the gospel.  Other possibilities include judging people on what they did know and feel and how they acted.  Perhaps people felt the higher power of God and felt in touch with it, or acted in community and kindness with their fellow man, or what have you and so the argument is that for their specific understanding of God and the world that they acted in a godly or good manner.  There are other possibilities here also, there is no specific one espoused by the Christian Church simply because the answer cannot be known but these were some of the more well known arguments. 

All that said, I definitely agree with your opinions on Experience, Logic, and Feelings as being conducive to faith and it was interesting to read your posts and beliefs.

Thanks.



Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Archon on January 26, 2007, 02:25:05 AM
To be fair, Ookla, there are many of you, and only one of Armadius. I understand that it is frustrating to bring up a point, and not have it be addressed, but it is also frustrating to have your viewpoint dragged down by the sheer number of points that you have to address.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Armadius on January 26, 2007, 04:04:02 AM
Ookla - Fine, I did bring up overpopulation and energy, but they were in a direct response to one of The Lost 24's comments. I'd rather not discuss them further in this thread because it derails the conversation; the topic is not about overpopulation nor the energy crisis. I'd rather keep it brief than allow the conversation to completely change topic.

Thank you, Archon. You're entirely correct. Ookla, responding to so many comments from people who all disagree with me is very far from easy. I'm giving the best responses I can with my limited timeframe; as you say, I've been otherwise occupied. My schedule is exceedingly busy, and this is hardly a top priority for me. And frankly, if you don't like the quality of my posts anymore, then stop reading them. Your complaints aren't going to affect the way I'm handling this, and they just clutter a conversation which, as you've so rudely pointed out, is already becoming too convoluted.

Jade Knight - I'm still working on it. You'll have to wait until tomorrow; I have an important geometry project to complete tonight, on top of a handful of other random assignments. Again, I apologize.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on January 26, 2007, 04:42:54 AM
2.  I would think/hope that most educated Christians do not simply say that because missionaries never preached to the Native Americans for thousands of years then all of those Native Americans were destined to hell. 

And yet this was the Catholic Church's official doctrine for centuries (that is, any human who was not baptized during their life would go irredeemably to hell.  This included infants who died in childbirth).


Addendum:  Technically, it was their official "dogma"; being something that was considered a "non-negiotiable."  It was baptism in the Church, or hell.  Clerical strikes during the Middle Ages were devastating among the peasants, and thus very effective, for this reason.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on January 26, 2007, 05:06:56 AM
Quote
To be fair, Ookla, there are many of you, and only one of Armadius. I understand that it is frustrating to bring up a point, and not have it be addressed, but it is also frustrating to have your viewpoint dragged down by the sheer number of points that you have to address.
It was the sheer number of those posts which led me to my previous post about preaching to the choir. If people had posted less overwhelmingly in Armadius' absence, then we might have had a more balanced and satisfying conversation. :)

Armadius, if you think I'm so rude, then you are also welcome to stop reading my posts.

I apologize for cluttering up everyone's thread.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on January 26, 2007, 04:13:30 PM
Armadius, it is a complicated question, but the answer is a central portion of your argument. To be effective, or even truly understood, you need to be able to at least outline the areas where being "in love" is different than loving someone.
Until such a distinction can be made other than in the most vague terms, I have a hard time accepting any discussion that involves such a distinction.
When I *choose* to be kind to other people, and spend time with them, I come to love them. I develop a bond (or connection as you say). I have formed this bond with men and women, adults and minors. It has nothing to do with my physical relationship with these people.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Skar on January 26, 2007, 05:10:32 PM
Quote
I venture to guess that you probably think pedophilia is an urge people ought to resist.  At the same time NAMBLA would no doubt argue that their desires are just as central to who they are as your homosexuality or my heterosexuality is to us.  So, whether we agree on which urges fall into the forbidden category is a separate issue from whether some urges ought to be denied no matter their source or inception.

Some ancient Greeks would have argued this as well, in fact.  Pederasty was, according to some, part of the normal and desireable bond between men and boys.

[From l'C'valyi d'Jade:  Skar seems to have taken overy my post.  Nifty trick, that.  I have no idea how it happened, however.]

[from Skar]: Uh, neither do I.  I certainly didn't do it on purpose.  Spriggan?
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Aen Elderberry on January 26, 2007, 06:25:27 PM
And yet this was the Catholic Church's official doctrine for centuries (that is, any human who was not baptized during their life would go irredeemably to hell.  This included infants who died in childbirth).

I wonder if this is why Dante's Inferno makes the upper levels of hell rather nice, well, nice compared to the lower levels.  It was a way to make Hell less hellish for the people that couldn't help being there since they never had the chance to get baptized.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Jwh on February 02, 2007, 03:58:06 AM
I know it appears as though this thread is finished and I am hesitant to bring it back up again but, I have a question more related to the original points of Mormonism which began the thread.

In one of EUOL's original posts on some of the fundamental beliefs of Mormonism, there was a part about the importance of freewill which seems to be a fundamental view point of most religions.  There was another post however of a few times in EUOL's life where prayers were answered with by god (marriage for example).  I don't actually know what Mormonisms stance on the omniscience of God, but one thing that has always been difficult for me to overcome from a religious stand point is that if God is omniscient and knows everything that will ever happen, then God knows the result of answering prayers and thereby nullifies personal free will.

For example if god did not have the power or chose never to answer any prayers then it seems to me that people can truly have free will, but once god begins to answer or not answer prayers as he chooses, then his knowledge of what his action will produce seems to void free will.   This freewill/omniscience paradox has always seemed difficult to me and I was just curious as to the Mormon view or answer to this.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Lost One on February 02, 2007, 05:32:11 AM
Quote
In one of EUOL's original posts on some of the fundamental beliefs of Mormonism, there was a part about the importance of freewill which seems to be a fundamental view point of most religions.  There was another post however of a few times in EUOL's life where prayers were answered with by god (marriage for example).  I don't actually know what Mormonisms stance on the omniscience of God, but one thing that has always been difficult for me to overcome from a religious stand point is that if God is omniscient and knows everything that will ever happen, then God knows the result of answering prayers and thereby nullifies personal free will.

For example if god did not have the power or chose never to answer any prayers then it seems to me that people can truly have free will, but once god begins to answer or not answer prayers as he chooses, then his knowledge of what his action will produce seems to void free will.   This freewill/omniscience paradox has always seemed difficult to me and I was just curious as to the Mormon view or answer to this.

Normally I would defer to EUOL on something like this because he is more articulate than me, however, I will attempt to answer this one.

Yes, God is omniscience but we are not.  Free will was given to mankind so that each man and woman can see for themselves whether they would choose to follow the commandments of God.  Thus obedience to God is not mandatory or coerced but rather something that each individual must choose.

With the example of prayer, God has commanded people to pray to him, however, each individual must choose to pray to God. When God answers that prayer, an individual must choose to recognize that answer.  If an individual chooses to recognize the answer, then there may be an additional choice to accept that answer.  At no point does God compell anyone to pray and accept his answers to prayer.

Now, to avoid confusion, I will state that Mormons believe that free will or agency was given to mankind as a gift from God. One primary issue in the conflict between God and Satan is agency. Agency is a precious gift from God given to mankind in what we believed to be a pre-mortal state as part of God's plan for mankind. Agency is essential to God's plan for His children because it will allow each one of His children to see for him or herself whether they will be diligent in choosing good.  The fact that God may already know the result does not invalidated this choice for each individual because God does not dictate the choice for the individual.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Jwh on February 02, 2007, 07:04:17 AM
Thank you for the reply. 

I am still confused as to how this is not a conflict, but I do not want to argue this point into the ground because it seems somewhat menial and nitpicking.  But let me give anther example which I think might better illustrate where my confusion comes in.

Say that individual A is debating going to school.

If we assume that god is not omniscient or can not/will not answer any prayers (i.e. has no way to communicate with individual A) then A is forced to decide on his own to go to school or not.  Thus it may be said that A has free will.

If we assume that god is omniscient and actively can communicate with A through prayer or some other means then it seems to me that A  going to school is more a matter of gods will then A's.  Because god, knowing what A's decision will be given every possible prayer answer from god can give his answer in a way such that A will then go to school or not.

It just seems to me that in the case of an omniscient god who answers prayers, free will becomes more difficult to understand.

Again, thank you for this thread.  I have learned much more about Mormonism then I ever knew before.  Also thank you Brandon (EUOL) for your books I have enjoyed them and look forward to many more.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on February 02, 2007, 07:54:57 AM
Let me see if I can help.

1.  God is not omniscient, man has free will:
God doesn't know if A should go to school.  God doesn't tell A whether or not he should go to school.  A has to choose, and then goes to school if he wants.

2.  God is omniscient, man has no free will:
God knows A should go to school.  God forces A to go to school.  A goes to school because it's God's will and there's nothing else he could have done.

3.  God is omniscient, man has free will:
God knows A should go to school.  If A prays, God tells him to go to school.  A goes to school if he chooses to accept God's will, but does not if he chooses not to.


There is still only 1 right answer, but it's man's decision as to whether or not to accept it.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Jwh on February 02, 2007, 08:34:13 AM
Hmm.  Thank you for the help, but it seems to me that an omniscient god will know the outcome of every possible answer to prayer that he gives.  Meaning that the gambit of prayer answers from no answer to giving a overwhelming feeling to follow gods will are possible responses from god over a single prayer.

Now, prior to actually giving A an answer, god knows how A will respond.  It is very possible that god giving one answer (possibly no response) elicits A to not go to school where as another answer (possibly an overwhelming feeling to follow his will) will elicit A to go to school.  To me this means that A's decision to go to school or not then lies in gods hands because the type of response that god will give determines what A will end up doing.

Also, with out the intention of blindly follow the six degrees of separation idea, it seems to me possible that once god has determined the outcome of one event for a person instead of being an observant bystander then that decision could easily propagate to change the lives many more than just the person with whom god made the initial suggestion or answer to prayer.

I think I have looked at this problem in to concrete a way and have difficulties getting over these problems.  I just personally enjoyed Mormonisms answers to other difficult religious problems seem to make much more sense to me than any I have heard before.  Also, I don't want this to turn argumentative and thus don't want to keep belaboring this point.  I just personally think that I have never properly understood the concept of freewill because this just seems so confusing to me.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on February 02, 2007, 10:09:40 AM
To be honest, this is one of the great debates in Christianity: Free Will vs. Predestination.

My fiancée and I have actually argued the issue extensively, and she used to believe firmly in Predestination.  She's since changed her mind.

Let's give you a few more theoretical considerations:

If someone's having a bad day because of a bad attitude, and you do a little tiny nice thing for them, and then they have a good day, did you just force them to have a good day?  Did you exercise your will to take away theirs?  Or did you simply help them to reassert their own will in a more positive way?  To what extent was the interaction a matter of your will, and to what extent was it theirs?

I am not claiming that this complex question is really quite simple, but mostly, it's a matter of perspective:
If God did not have foresight, and did the same thing, would he still have taken your free will away?  If so, then everything that occurs to influence our decisions robs us of agency (and therefore, agency is an impossibility).

And if not, then how has God taken away our Agency by knowing in advance what will happen when he chooses to influence us?

God knows the future like we know the past.  He knows what we will choose.  But we choose.  That's the important part.  It doesn't really matter whether God has done something that influences us or not—we still choose, and we have the ability to choose.  God does not force us to choose one way or another.

I think the key to understanding this is focusing on the issue of whether or not external influences take away our agency.  God is not the only thing that influences our decisions.  But when something does, when something has influenced us, have we lost our agency, our ability to choose, because we were influenced?
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on February 02, 2007, 02:29:44 PM
I think that Jade essentially has it right. I understand what you're trying to ask, but it seems to me to pretty much be a semantic fine point rather than an actual paradox. The idea that God can give an answer to any given question that will definitely elicit a certain response relies on two assumptions: 1) that such a response definitely exists for eliciting every specific response to any given question for guidance. And 2) That God chooses to give that specific response.
I'm far from convinced that (1) is the case. But even if it is so, then it also follows that a potential response God might give is one that both informs us what the correct thing is to do but also leaves the decision up to us.

I don't believe that I have taken my child's freewill. I know that (nearly every time) I tell my three year old to eat her chicken she will throw a fit. Yet I still tell her to eat her chicken. Have I chosen to make her throw a fit? I don't believe so. Even though I have told her something that I am sure she will react to in a certain way, I'm still convinced that she is the one who has chosen to throw the fit. She can still choose to eat her chicken graciously. Or else she can eat her chicken and complain about it. Or she can choose not to complain and not eat her chicken anyway. And those are the options that first spring to mind that I am reasonably certain a 3 year old is capable of making (it doesn't include having a reasoned debate about the merits of eating her chicken, which an adult praying for guidance could make -- there's even examples of that in scripture).

For this reason, I don't believe that foreknowledge of the outcome necessarily means that God *has* made our decision for us.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Pemberley on February 03, 2007, 11:37:22 PM
I hope you don't mind my jumping in here. I've been reading this thread with interest-especially the portion about free will and God's omniscience, because this is a topic that has always fascinated me.  Incidentally, Mormons call it agency rather than free will because we believe that everyone has the freedom to choose their thoughts and actions, but not freedom from the consequences of those thoughts and actions.  I think that one of the ways that God preserves our agency is in the way he answers our prayers.
a potential response God might give is one that both informs us what the correct thing is to do but also leaves the decision up to us.
God, being God, could give a response that is so powerful or undeniable we would basically be "forced" to accept it.  Instead he chooses to respond to our requests in a way that lets us know what His will is, while still giving us the choice on whether or not to follow it.  Anyway, thanks for all your thoughtful questions and answers.  I enjoy them.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on February 04, 2007, 02:49:28 AM
Plenty of Latter Day Saints call it "free will", as well.  There are some Latter Day Saints, however, who are not comfortable with this term, because they think "free" implies a lack of consequences for one's actions.

I just wanted to point out that this is the personal opinion of some, and has nothing to do with LDS doctrine; it's simply a semantic preference.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Tink on February 05, 2007, 05:56:22 PM
Another point, I'd like to make (and I just skimmed, so sorry if someone else said this) is that everything we have comes from God (i.e. this earth, food, shelter, etc.). They are blessings from God. The one thing that is truly our own is our agency. God cannot take away our ability to choose. Things can happen in our life that cause us to lose everything (think of Job), but we will always have the ability to choose how we react to these events. We can choose to continue with faith, as Job did, or we can choose to lose faith in God either by deciding he doesn't exist, or by deciding he does, but he's cruel. That's up to us.

When we pray to know what we should do in a given situation, we can choose to follow the answer we receive. Basically, since God is omniscient, he will know the best path for us to follow. We have decided that rather than rely on our own limited knowledge to make the decision, we will rely on God's knowledge, which is limitless. Because he loves us, and because we are his children, he will tell us what is best for us. (Of course, sometimes we don't know why it was the best decision until way after the fact.)

So back to the fact that agency is the only thing that is truly ours: When we decide to follow God's will and the answers he gives us when we pray, we are giving him the only thing that we can truly give--our agency. It's the greatest gift we can give him. It's the only thing he cannot take from us.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Jwh on February 06, 2007, 09:45:12 AM
I have given this topic a lot of thought over the last few days because the basic dilemma still seems too difficult for me to get over.  I think I may have come to some sort of conclusion that makes sense however I am not sure how succinctly I can say it.

As a little pre-discussion before I begin my point.  To me it has always made sense that given every possible decision by beings with agency or free will that the fundamental makeup of the world/universe would change for every possible method of making that decision.  An example being that (to use the example from before) deciding to go to school or not would have different outcomes for to myself, my friends, family, peers and others based on how and to what extent I made my decision. 

Given that preceding paragraph, (which I may be wrong or not able to explain as well as I wish I could) I can see God's omniscience as existing in one of two ways (there may be more, but these are the two that make most sense to me).  The first way is the way that I have always assumed it would be where God has the capability to know what will happen for any possible decision that any person can make.  Before a person makes a decision, especially one in which God was asked for guidance on, God can look at all the possibly ways the person may respond, know the resulting outcomes -- which would correspond to knowing the result of that decision for the rest of eternity, and then respond in such a way to yield the outcome he wants.  In this version of God's omniscience I still have difficulty accepting free will as existing.

The second version of God I think removes this difficulty (at least for me).  In this version, for each possible decision that any person could make, again especially ones in which prayer was done and the individuals are waiting for an answer from God (even no answer seems to be a form of answer), God can only answer in one way because that is the "perfect" way.  The only way in which God knew he was going to answer from the beginning of time, the only possible way.  In this version, God can not look at all the possible paths that a person's decision may take because they don't truly exist since God gives the ideal answer and knows the way you will take.  In this version the argument that although God knows what we will do, we are still the ones deciding it makes much more sense to me.  I don't think that this version of God takes away from his omniscience or majesty, it is just the way that seems to make logical sense to resolve this problem.

I guess the questions I have then are this: 
First, does this make sense at all and second is this version of God's omniscience more akin to the accepted version?

As I was typing this I came to a third version which is that although God may have a say in the outcome of our prayers to him, because of his ability to modify his answer to get a result, it is not the result that matters but the degree in which God had to give his answer to yield the determined answer?
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Aen Elderberry on February 06, 2007, 10:43:17 PM
God can only answer in one way because that is the "perfect" way.  The only way in which God knew he was going to answer from the beginning of time, the only possible way.

I don't know if this changes your second scenario but have you considered that there may not be one "perfect way?"

I think God's goals are not along the lines of "this is how I want the world to be" or even "this is exactly what I want you to do" but more along the lines of "this is what I want my children to learn" and "I want you to help that person feel loved, I don't care if it's by baking them cookies or by smiling at them or listening to them but just do something." 

It may be that I need, for God's plan for me, to go to school to meet a particular person or be prepared for some future situation but perhaps it doesn't matter.   Perhaps his immediate goal for me is for me to learn patience, kindness, and compassion and I'll learn that whether I go to school or not.  Perhaps I'd learn those things quicker in at school.  But he can still find ways to teach me even if I don't listen to the answer to the prayer.  If I later regret not listening and express in prayer my regret he'll find another way to teach me.

In other words in my mind following the answer to a prayer can be important because of the outcome but most important is being willing to submit my will to his.  It's not to help God create the perfect version of the world.  In fact it's Satan's plan, not God's plan, to force everyone to create the Perfect World.

(Did that rambling make any sense at all?  It sounds like I'm claiming that Satan is Lawful Evil and God is Chaotic Good.  :)  )
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: dawncawley on February 07, 2007, 10:35:22 AM
When put that way Hauf, and in terms an old gamer understood, you kind of did. Not that it is a bad thing, or totally off base. Let me see if I can articulate anything intelligent at this time of night.

God may know every scenario for every choice you ever make, but, by allowing you to choose, because really He does, he is allowing chaos, of a sort, to reign. If you pray for guidance for whatever decision you are praying for, and God gives you an answer of what he thinks would be the best route for you at that particular point in your life, you have the CHOICE of whether to follow his guidance, to misinterpret it, to ignore it, or simply to partially follow it. Free will is a form of chaos. He allows choices that most assuredly do not fit with the plan he may have for you and the Earth, thus allowing the creation of something he has minimal to no control over the forming of. Yet, He rules it with kid gloves and mercy when it is deserved. This, in my opinion, is a bit as Hauf stated, making God Chaotic Good.

Another way, sorry the first one seems off in a way, you ask your parents or friends, for their opinion about, lets use school it was given and it is relevant for me anyway. You hear what they have to say about what they think you should do, and why, but by asking for their guidance and opinions you haven't given up your personal choice. You are simply looking for more information or direction than you may have had yourself. How you use that information is still up to you, as is how you use the information He gives you in your prayers.

As for Satan, well, he wants everything just so, and done his way, to heck with what you may want, so I guess that makes him Lawful. The fact that the laws he wants followed are evil, basically makes him Lawful Evil, as Hauf has so kindly pointed out to us. ;)

Sorry if this is rambly and incoherent, it is the middle of the night, and I still have a little one who refuses to sleep at normal times of the day. Too bad he is three years old and active  ::)
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on February 07, 2007, 09:15:11 PM
Awesome. That last post is the kind of thing I come to this forum for.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: dreamking47 on February 07, 2007, 09:32:16 PM
I was going to say, I'm not an LDS member, but if I understand the beliefs articulated in this thread correctly, what people are saying is that the world we live in is akin to a massively multiplayer online game (or environment, really) that you choose to enter not knowing what your starting point, race or stats will be; where you gain experience points by helping to make sure the game runs smoothly and maximizes everyone's enjoyment; with a DM/SysAdmin who prefers to let players work out issues themselves; and with the end result being that when you exit the game, you've learned something about yourself and hopefully are better prepared to deal with real life.  Is that about right?

MattD
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Skar on February 07, 2007, 10:57:08 PM
Not bad DreamKing.  Would you like the missionaries to come by your house and teach you more?  ;)
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Chimera on February 08, 2007, 12:01:15 AM
and with the end result being that when you exit the game, you've learned something about yourself and hopefully are better prepared to deal with real life.  Is that about right?

MattD

That's pretty much it, dreamking. Like EUOL and possibly others have mentioned before, we (members of the LDS Church) believe that life began BEFORE we came to earth. There are three parts--Premortal Life, Mortal Life, and Postmortal Life. God is our father and we are His children. We'd progressed as far as we could as spirits in the Premortal Life. So Earth was created as the next stage of our testing ground--a place where we could receive mortal bodies and prove ourselves SEPARATED from the direct presence of God, our Heavenly Father. We are preparing for the third and final stage--Postmortal Life, where we will have perfected, immortal bodies. As one scripture says in the Book of Mormon, "This life is the time to prepare to meet God." Thus, we believe that life continues after death, and that what we do while on earth directly affects what glory we receive in the next life. So we are, in a sense, preparing for "real life"--the glorious existence that comes in Postmortal Life. But that doesn't by any means negate the reality or importance of this life. Mortal life is filled with pain and joy, but you use your agency/free will to follow God's commandments and live the best life possible, perfecting yourself and helping others.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on February 08, 2007, 11:12:36 PM
Quote
you choose to enter not knowing what your starting point, race or stats will be
Actually--we often hear that each of us knew full well what we'd be getting into before we were born, more or less specifically.  But I'm not sure of the doctrinal status of that, and it may just be a popular interpretation.

The DM/SysAdmin does leave a lot of clues. And while I said the post above about him being Chaotic Good was awesome, that doesn't mean I actually agree completely. He does use a rulebook--we believe everything he does is according to some law--though only those laws which we're supposed to follow while "in the game" are relevant to figure out. We're only required to follow the rules we know about; ignorance of the law IS an excuse, but everyone is also given common sense/a conscience ("The Light of Christ") that ignoring is a bad idea. And though we won't be punished for breaking rules we don't know about, they come with their natural consequences that may be detrimental without being punishments per se.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on February 09, 2007, 04:24:28 PM
Quote
you choose to enter not knowing what your starting point, race or stats will be
Actually--we often hear that each of us knew full well what we'd be getting into before we were born, more or less specifically. But I'm not sure of the doctrinal status of that, and it may just be a popular interpretation.
Hrm... I have *not* often heard that. In fact, this may be the first time I've heard it suggested seriously. Usually I don't hear any comments about it.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: dawncawley on February 09, 2007, 06:39:07 PM
Since this is something that I have heard, I will chime in. The specific that I hear, though I do not know if it is doctrine or just something that my dad, who is an LDS member, believes, is that we do have knowledge of what we are coming into, but that knowledge is not carried over once we arrive. So, you do know your stats/race and starting knowledge, but choose to come anyway, knowing that the knowledge that you have before you come you will not have once you are here. Does that make sense? It sounds garbled and jumbled to me, but I hope it helps.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: WOWKING32 on February 11, 2007, 09:05:43 PM
Isn't it extremely pessimistic to say that life as we know it is just an experiment, or even that we knew what our lives were going to be like before we chose them.  These two ideas are very difficult with the idea that Christ came to earth to save humanity.  Why would he even bother dying and going through what he did if we just came here to expreience the pain of life.  That in itself seems to suggest that Christ's suffering was for naught, which goes against Chrsitianity.  The second idea, that we knew of our life before we came to earth is also very difficult, because of how much pain some people have to go through.  I hate the idea that someone can spend their life looking for God through the greatest pains and difficulties life can offer, then because they were not a part of one minor religion of the world, that they didn't even encounter during their time on earth.  This idea that people know how their lives are going to be also suggests that people know the "stuff" that they have to go through before they are born.  That doesn;t make sense to me either, because of how much different people's lives are earth are.  In the United States it is easy for us not to see the pain that people have to go through on a regular basis.  I'm just curious what the response to these questions would be, because a lot of this stuff doesn;t make sense to me as a progressive catholic
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on February 12, 2007, 03:38:40 PM
I don't think you've accurately stated the LDS position. This life isn't "just an experiment." It is a test and a trial, and it's a chance for development -- to become better than we were before this life. Given that, the Atonement of Christ becomes extremely meaningful.
And as for " hate the idea that someone can spend their life looking for God through the greatest pains and difficulties life can offer, then because they were not a part of one minor religion of the world, that they didn't even encounter during their time on earth. " That is a concern that the LDS religion has a unique answer for, and frankly, the only solution I've heard that is even vaguely satisfying. People are accountable for the truth they know. If they have never heard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, than God could hardly be just if he held them responsible for not participating in the ordinances or community of that body.  So he doesn't. In the after-life, these people are given opportunity to learn about the Gospel. If they lived according to the light they had in life, than it follows that they will likely accept the gospel when they understand it.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on February 12, 2007, 11:36:46 PM
It's definitely not an experiment or a dry run. This life is the only shot we get to live by faith without a sure knowledge of God because we can't remember standing in front of him--which was not the case before we were born (i.e. he was right there, we saw him all the time), and won't be the case after judgment (even those who aren't found worthy to be with him all the time will remember judgment day). "The day of this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God," one of our scriptures says.  (Though God is the judge whether people have really have had a fair shake during this life, and those who haven't will have more chances after death but before the ressurrection & judgment, as described to some extent above--but to the extent that you HAVE had a fair chance during this life you'll be judged as that having been your chance.)

Christ is still the only one with the power to take away sin through his atonement--and since no one is perfect here on Earth, and we all make mistakes, Christ is essential to our making it back to our Father.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: WOWKING32 on February 14, 2007, 06:50:14 AM
so LDS has a really complicated version of heaven that is pretty defined is kind of what I am hearing from this.  Personally what I believe is that there are different ways to get to know God during your life, no matter what religion you are, that if you live your life according to moral decisions and try to help other people in their suffering, than you are helping God love to spread throughout the world, therefore helping those less fortunate than we are.  The way I look at it, Jesus and God don't care what religion you are, that if you are trying to make the world a better place than you are trying to get closer to God's love.  Just saying how I feel. 
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on February 14, 2007, 09:11:10 AM
Well, I'm of the opinion that God appreciates everything we do to serve mankind.  There are scriptures which state that serving others is simply serving God.  Regardless of your religion, good is good and love (charity) is love.

At the same time, it's pretty hard for Christians to get around John 14:6 ("No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.")

If you don't believe in the Bible, however, that's not much of an issue to begin with.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Drakogy on November 20, 2008, 09:16:03 AM
I am aware that this thread has been forgotten for quite some time but I do have points that I want you all to consider. I may sound harsh and stubborn but I want to propose certain questions and answers to the LDS faith. There is much to cover but please be patient and I will try to answer your questions rationally.

Does God's Omniscience Eliminate Free-Will?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbZqByqy5To
I may refer to Prof. William Craig in the future.

 I agree that we all have Free will. I also agree that it was our choice to eat from the forbidden tree. I do not however agree with the LDS view of pre life. There is no mention of this in the Bible anywhere. It is only through the publications of John Smith that changes the word of GOD.

First of all why would GOD show this to one person instead of a multitude? The accounts of Jesus Christ are written by multiple witnesses. Any error would be corrected by those who witnessed Jesus' resurrection. So how does a single person born about 2000 years afterward  have the right to change GOD's word? Since GOD is all knowing why would he change it? You may say it is a test but it is already a test. To listen and believe the original word of GOD. The authors of the New Testament wrote so that you too may believe.(From all NT manuscripts only 99.5% has error between them) 

Life is not about good works. It is only through trust in Jesus that we are saved. He has restored our relationship with GOD by becoming one of us and paying for all of our sins. It is because of what he did for us is why we do good deeds, out of love and gratitude so that those who see the kindness in our hearts may believe.

I will stop here for now. Please forgive me if there are any typing errors in my writting.
Thank You
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Skar on November 20, 2008, 05:08:12 PM
Pre Earth Life: "5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (http://kingjbible.com/jeremiah/1.htm)"

Quote
First of all why would GOD show this to one person instead of a multitude? The accounts of Jesus Christ are written by multiple witnesses. Any error would be corrected by those who witnessed Jesus' resurrection.

First, you're reasoning about why God would not reveal himself to only one person eliminates quite a few prophets, including Moses. And second, God has spoken to me, personally, through the spirit, testifying of the truth of JOSEPH Smith's revelations and teachings, as well as to the truth of the Book of Mormon and the status of the modern day prophets of our church. The same is true of many millions of Mormons, so he HAS revealed the truth to multitudes. If you'll take the time to research the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, you'll also discover that Angels and Christ himself appeared to more people than Joseph Smith during the early years of the church.

Quote
So how does a single person born about 2000 years afterward have the right to change GOD's word? Since GOD is all knowing why would he change it?

This statement seems to imply that you don't know about the council of Nicaea 1 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea) and 2 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Council_of_Nicaea), both of which changed what is considered "the word of God" today. Beyond that it also implies that you are unaware that the New Testament itself was not assembled into a coherent book until hundreds of years after the events described. And then, of course, we have this:

Paul on the road to Damascus
Acts 9:7 "And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man."
Acts 22:9 "And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me."

Quote
Life is not about good works. It is only through trust in Jesus that we are saved.
James 2:
"17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? "

And then there's the following combination:
John 17:3
"3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. "
1 John 2:4
"4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. "

All this comes down to one concept. Blind faith in any creed or doctrine is not what God wants from us. What he wants is for us to come to him as best we can. Pray to him, seek truth, and obey the promptings of his spirit and you'll be fine in the next life. If the promptings of God's spirit really direct you to attack other Christians over points of doctrine, more power to you, have at.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: little wilson on November 20, 2008, 05:42:21 PM
I probably shouldn't post in this, since I'll get sucked in and most likely won't surface for a while, but oh well. I like religious discussions.

Quote
So how does a single person born about 2000 years afterward have the right to change GOD's word?

You're implying that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon. He didn't. He translated the writings of other prophets, prophets who lived before, at, and after the time of Christ. The time frame of the BoM is 600 BCE/BC - 400 CE/AD.

Also, I need to mention that the book doesn't CHANGE the word of God. God's word stays the same. All that changes is what he chooses to reveal to us. But that doesn't matter for this discussion. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, one that proves the truth of the Bible. It doesn't discredit it, nor should the BoM be used WITHOUT the Bible. They go hand in hand.

Quote
The accounts of Jesus Christ are written by multiple witnesses. Any error would be corrected by those who witnessed Jesus' resurrection.

Technically, no mortal really WITNESSED Christ's resurrection. They witnessed him AFTER the resurrection. Not the resurrection itself. So therefore, Christ's apostles who saw Christ in the flesh after the crucifixion are just as reliable as those "other sheep" who Christ said that he needed to visit. The people in the America's (who the Book of Mormon tells the story of) are some of those "other sheep."

Quote
Life is not about good works. It is only through trust in Jesus that we are saved. He has restored our relationship with GOD by becoming one of us and paying for all of our sins. It is because of what he did for us is why we do good deeds, out of love and gratitude so that those who see the kindness in our hearts may believe.

The good works thing--what Skar said. I was going to use James 2 as well.

Christ atoned for our sins, yes, but whether we allow that Atonement to work in our lives is our choice. If we ask for His help, and we repent of our sins truly, asking for forgiveness, then the Atonement will work for us. BUT we can't commit that sin again. Odds are we will, since we're human, but then we'll just have to ask for further forgiveness. The goal is to overcome our sins and weaknesses.

1 Corinthians 10:13
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man. But God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
(that may or may not be completely accurate. It was from memory as I'm too lazy to look it up online)

That scripture isn't just about trials. It's also about (among other things) the weaknesses that we're given to work through in life. There are ways to overcome them. By overcoming them, we become better people. Better people do good works. I believe this is more what the "good works" in "salvation comes through faith in Christ and good works" is referring to. I could be wrong, but that's the way I see it.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Drakogy on November 20, 2008, 07:22:01 PM
Matthew 24:23-25
At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the electif that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.

As for Saul, he was accompanied with other men on his way to Damascus who heard Jesus but did not see him. GOD also spoke to Ananias in a vison to restore not only Paul's physical blindness but spiritual blindness as well. Paul also talked with the Apostles Jesus' works and teachings.

The same cannot be said about Smith who was the sole witness but who could not locate the ancient texts. Also he could not read any ancient egyptian texts in his trial by which he said was the language the writtings were in.

Ephesians 2:8-10
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The only path to salvation is through Trust in Jesus Christ. Trust is not something we do but a confirmation of what Christ has done for us. For he has earned my trust, I do not blindly follow him. For I have realized that I truly need him.

1 Corinthians 13: 8-13
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

As I have stated before I do good works out of love and gratitude not for personal gain but for those who see my good works so that they too may come to believe. It has come to my attention that LDS is very generous to those interested in the church. You provide houses and support for those in need which is great, but I have heard that those who turn away from the Mormon church lose everything. Yet they say it was worth it.

So no matter what we do we will always be sinful and imperfect till we are renewed after death. Our goal is to not better ourselves but bring others to the relationship with GOD.

Also GOD knowing who we were before our birth does not imply that we were alive before it only says that he is all knowing.

Please forgive me if I made something unclear or if I jumped around a bit. I do speak harshly not out of hatred but out of concern. You are all wonderful and kind people but I want to bring some things to light that might not have thought about before.
Thank You for your patience
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: melbatoast on November 20, 2008, 07:51:47 PM
Wow, this is a great discussion! I just wanted to mention something regarding free will/God's omniscience. I took LDS Perspectives on Psychology at BYU a few years back and we spent a lot of time talking about agency. Basically there are two schools of thought regarding God's omniscience, with several general authorities falling in either category.

1. God knows everything that is going to happen as in he can see the future, but we cannot see the future so we still have free will. God exists outside of time and past, present, and future are as one to him.

2. God cannot SEE the future, but he is omniscient in the sense that he is so intelligent and knows us so well, that he can predict very accurately what will happen in the future. He knows everything that can be known. An analogy used to explain this is a master chess player playing someone who has never played chess before. Although the master doesn't know the exact moves the novice will make, he can make very accurate predictions as to the outcome of the came. This means that God moves through time in the same way as us instead of existing outside of time.

I'd have to dig up my notes to see if I could find any sources or quotes on either of those, but I thought I would throw it out there for people to think about. I tend to lean towards the second one, but it really doesn't matter that much to us right now in any case.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: little wilson on November 20, 2008, 07:52:57 PM
Quote
The same cannot be said about Smith who was the sole witness but who could not locate the ancient texts. Also he could not read any ancient egyptian texts in his trial by which he said was the language the writtings were in.

Huh? Are you saying Joseph wasn't able to find the ancient texts he translated from? They were gold plates. And he DID find them, and he WASN'T the only person who saw them. There were at least 11 other witnesses.

And maybe my education has been lacking, but I don't recall any trial Joseph went through. At least not any COURT trial. He actually sent some of the Reformed Egyptian he'd been translating and his translation to a scholar--a professor at a university--and the professor said it was an accurate translation. Look it up. That's true.

Quote
Ephesians 2:8-10
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

True, we're saved by the grace of God, AFTER all we can do. But ultimately, it's Christ that saves us. No one can make it to heaven on their own. Everyone needs Christ's intervention.

Quote
It has come to my attention that LDS is very generous to those interested in the church. You provide houses and support for those in need which is great, but I have heard that those who turn away from the Mormon church lose everything. Yet they say it was worth it.

The church helps out others in need regardless of whether they turn away from the church or not. Perhaps you're accounts come from those who turned away from the church's help BECAUSE it was the LDS church helping and they refused to accept help.....Often times, when the church gives aid, it's not for missionary work. It's for service. It's to alleviate the suffering of our fellow brothers and sisters who are also children of God. It's not to convert others.

Quote
I do speak harshly not out of hatred but out of concern. You are all wonderful and kind people but I want to bring some things to light that might not have thought about before.

Ah, but you see, you get the best results when you DON'T speak harshly. When you put across your opinions in a clear, reasonable light. I'm happy to hear that you're so concerned for us. But if you ARE so concerned, why don't you start projecting some of that love? There'd be less chance for anyone to misconstrue what you say.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on November 20, 2008, 09:42:04 PM
I'm going to call an end to this particular branch of the conversation, which is growing out of control and causing bad feelings. Neither side is providing citations for anything outside the scriptures -- and in every single one of those cases their argument relies on a particular interpretation of that scripture. Thus that gets us no where. So, we are *not* discussing whether Mormonism is *true* at this point. We can talk about what the Doctrines of the LDS church are, we can talk about personal beliefs, we can talk about doctrines of other sects. But we are *not* trying to discredit specific religions here.

I hope I'm clear here and don't need to start making threats and taking administrative action.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: little wilson on November 20, 2008, 09:46:17 PM
I completely agree. I think discussions where people try to disprove other religions are pointless. I actually didn't realize that's what he was doing until the end of his last post...But I'm all for doctrinal discussions. Those are MUCH more fun!
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Skar on November 20, 2008, 10:48:10 PM
Awwww, I think it's kind of fun when ill-informed anti-mormons try to hurt other people's faith in Christ using blatantly and obviously false statements.

It's almost as fun as when well informed anti-mormons do it but that's, unfortunately, not what's going on here.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: little wilson on November 20, 2008, 10:59:08 PM
I think it can be pretty funny, too. Although, it CAN get annoying after a while--when the person is so close-minded they refuse to even read/listen to what you have to say/write....I've come across a few of those (actually, more than a few, but that's beside the point).

Regardless, I'm not going to fight against SE. Who knows what those monkeys can do.I may be a coward, but I for one don't want to find out. I've seen a few too many evil monkey videos on youtube to test a monkey master's patience (although I would like to see just how much control a monkey master can really have....monkeys are devilish little creatures...).

But I digress....
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: mtlhddoc2 on November 20, 2008, 11:27:53 PM
Ok, to be fair, I didnt read this thread in it's entirety, I always get lost as soon as someone mentions religion and logic in the same sentence. Logic and religion really have nothing to do with each other, since using your full logical capacities, you cannot logically infer the existence of something noone has ever seen and there is no evidence of anyone ever seen. Belief, however, is another matter. Faith is something which defies logic. You have to have faith that what you believe actually exists. you simply cannot apply faith and logic to teh same argument.

It is my belief, though, that each person should read the scripture, doctrines and religious texts of each religion before coming to a conclusion that another religion is wrong. If indeed there is a "God" or gods, you could ALL be right, and/or wrong, at the same time. You are all certainly entitled to believe whatever you wish, but do not disparge something you know little or nothing about. Each of you, even those of the same religion, have different beliefs, but I do not believe that blindly following your diocese, chapter, or preacher/preist/imam/rabbi is one of them. Those people exist, but are not as common as many think.

For full disclosure: I am an athiest/agnostic/non-believer, whatever you want to call me. I do not believe in the existence of a higher power or beings greater than those which can be physically observed. And believe it or not, I am a Republican ;) - and I have read the religious texts of nearly every major religion, including all versions and instances of the Judaic/Christian bible(s) and the Koran. I have also studied religon extensively and in partciular, the conclaves which determined what to preach in Christianity ad the "transcription" of the Koran and Bible.

Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on November 20, 2008, 11:38:50 PM
I don't find it particularly amusing myself. I think laughing at others' ignorance is rude (and also pointless). I would rather spend my effort on people who are actually interested in learning the truth or at least in learning what other people believe.

Responding to people who are just out to criticize you, no matter how ill-informed they may be, is largely a waste of timewith the possible exception that it shows bystanders (who don't know that the attacks are ignorant) that you do have a response. And in that case, the tone of your response can make as much or more of an impression than the words of your response. As poking fun at someone can only make you look bad, it's a better idea all around not to do it no matter how tempting it may seem.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: little wilson on November 20, 2008, 11:49:33 PM
It's always good to know more about the major religions of the world. I'm a student at BYU-I (LDS church school). I transferred up here last fall, and the first religion course I took was World Religions. It went over 11 of the major world religions--Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Shinto, etc. It was really quite a fascinating class. I wish I'd brought the book back up here with me this semester.

Anyway, I know this class was taught from an LDS professor's point of view, but I feel like we addressed the religions pretty accurately. One of the things that my prof pushed was the fact that all religions have some degree of truth to them. Some more than others, and our goal was to see the truth in each of the religions.

This was really kind of fun to do. Quite a few of them respected nature significantly, to the point where they wouldn't harm creatures--not even swat a mosquito. This isn't a bad thing to follow--respect for other creatures. I wouldn't take it to the extreme of not even swatting a mosquito or killing a fly that just won't stop buzzing around you, but the theory of it is something everybody could learn from.

Taking that class didn't cause me lose faith in the LDS religion, though. If anything, it strengthened it. There are questions that aren't answered well-enough in other faiths that are, at least to some degree, answered in the LDS faith. Granted, not all answers are given--that's where faith comes in--but the doctrines just feel right. They're not perfect. But they're awfully close.

And I actually agree with Mok as well....I just remembered a religious discussion I got in a while ago somewhere else online. It was one of those pointless "Are Mormons Christians?" topics.....It was pretty much me against six or seven fairly knowledgable people....Incredibly frustrating, to say the least. Took forever for me to find a good time to back out....That was the last Mormon-Christian debate I ever got in. I don't think I'll ever do it again.::)
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Drakogy on November 21, 2008, 12:26:08 AM
You may deny me or staight out shun me but I made it clear that I want to present certain points you might not have considered. From what you have told me it has become apparent that your Church is withholding certain truths from you. For me a Lutheran the Bible is sola scriptura nothing else. This may make you feel uneasy but that is what life is about; solving the problems at hand instead of running away or making excuses.

So with this said I sincerely hope you will look beyond your bias

This is a personal story by an Ex-LDS member
I ask you to take a look at what she has to say
http://www.realmormonhistory.com/my.htm

Here is her website consisting of well documented facts of Mormon history
http://www.realmormonhistory.com/

If you truly say that you are not the ignorant ones you will listen to what she has to say. Other than that I will be happy to answer any questions about where I stand. Thank You for your time~
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on November 21, 2008, 12:39:32 AM
Drakogy, you're not shedding any light we haven't heard before. We've been at this a lot longer than you. Nothing you say makes me uneasy because I've already dealt with it.

There are no questions to ask you because you're not interested in sharing your own beliefs; you're only attacking the beliefs of others. You've also demonstrated in this thread that you ignore evidence from the Bible that you feel like ignoring, so it's pointless to try to talk with you.

People have been trying to destroy the church for almost 200 years. They haven't succeeded, and not because the church is "withholding" anything from us.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: little wilson on November 21, 2008, 12:52:47 AM
Exactly.

Oh, and Drakogy, you should know that Kelly is a guy. He says he went on a mission when he was 19. That's the dead giveaway.....

Oh, and he also missed one of the reasons people apostatize from the church. He got two of them, but the third is pretty much not having a testimony for themselves, and then attempting to learn too much before they're ready. Basically. And that's what he did. The church doesn't lie to its members. They're not covering up anything. But there are things that aren't taught because they're so sacred that some members just simply aren't ready to hear them--because they won't understand.

Of course, I don't really expect you to read my reasoning about this. You have yet to acknowledge the evidence I've laid out previously....

I don't intend on responding to what you have to say again, unless it appears to me that you're actually reading what I'm writing and thinking logically about it. I'm listening to you. I'm giving you my feedback. If I can't get the same respect, then my part of this (with you) is over. Just know that I'm not shunning you....
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: mtlhddoc2 on November 21, 2008, 01:12:51 AM
I just had to reply again.

You are speaking of organized religion. And throughout history into the present day, all organized religions withhold truths from their membership. All of them. Without fail. Each and every religion has inconsistencies in its teachings and its scripture. Part of faith is looking beyond or past those. Even so, most churches/religions/diocese (etc) cover up shady parts or inconsistencies and always have. It is human nature to withhold evidence which does not support your cause/theory/hypothesis (etc). It is what it is, and it does not make the faith or one's belief in such faith, invalid. Please, please, do not make one religion out to be more "sanctimonious" than another. They all have failings and questionable morality from their pasts...  and presents. It is an insult to anyone of any intelligence to suggest otherwise. Just liek it is insulting in the political spectrum to suggest that the Bush administration has done no wrong, or no right, in the past 8 years. When you deal in absolutes, be sure that it is absolute.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Drakogy on November 21, 2008, 02:17:10 AM
Im sorry, I apologize for the misunderstanding and thank you for looking into it.  Also what is the underlying reason why they say that you are not ready to understand? Is it because whence you get in that far you cannot get out? The Bible does not hide anything so why should the Church? This is what happened with the Catholic Church. They got too power hungry and started to pervert GOD's word. Yes this is seen in all religious organizations. What is important is to stick with the Bible only. 

This is one reason why I do not hold the Mormon doctrine to be true.
Another is the contradictions in the revisions. http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/changeappendixb.htm
The undeniable shady history of the Church.
There is no reason for the Bible to change. The Old testament prophesized the coming of Jesus and the New Testament is the coming of Christ and his victory over sin and Death. With this completed why would He change it. If he was going to change it he would have given a warning from the beginning. But Jesus states the opposite.

Matthew 24:23-25
At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the electif that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.

These are my reasons why

Thank You for your time.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: little wilson on November 21, 2008, 02:37:44 AM
It seems like you're actually reading and wondering about the posts. That's good. Therefore, I'll respond.

It's not "I'm not ready to understand." Sure, there's doctrine that I don't know as well as others, but I'm not going to seek them out to learn more about them, because I'll learn about them when I'm ready. Some doctrine is so deep that you have to have a certain understanding of God and how he works to comprehend them. I'd rather not be condemned for doctrine that I learned before I was ready, and therefore didn't follow.

Word of advice--when researching ANY religion, you don't want to just go to sources that are anti that particular religion. If you're going to research the LDS church, go ahead and use the sources you're using, but you had better back it up with sources at such sites like lds.org or mormon.org if you intend on getting into discussions. You want to make sure that the non-church sources you're reading are accurate.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Kalam on November 21, 2008, 03:18:14 AM
First off, I'm a huge fan of Mr. Sanderson and didn't even realize the Mormon leaning of himself and this forum until I found this thread. I understand that so far the discussion has been mainly between the philosophical views of Mormons, but I would like to challenge the religion based purely on what we can relate to, historical documents and peoples. I couldn't find a better spot to do so than this thread, so sorry in advance for thread-jacking. ;)

To start off with is an interesting documentary created by the Living Hope Ministries.
http://www.lhvm.org (should be the main video on the site: THE BIBLE VS THE BOOK OF MORMON)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1mFdO1wB08& (youtube link)

The video is one hour and six minutes long, so I'd suggest snacks while you watch.

Quote
This documentary, produced by the Living Hope Ministries in Brigham City, Utah, remains faithful to its explicit purpose: to determine if the Book of Mormon truly is comparable with the Bible. While the individuals behind the film are Christians, as they readily admit, this is not really an examination of faith per se. What it really tries to do is put both the Book of Mormon and the Bible in context alongside geographical, historical, and scientific facts. To put it in a nutshell, this video succeeds in proving that there a single piece of evidence for the factual basis of the Book of Mormon. It is not an attack on the Mormon faith in and of itself, as faith is by definition unquantifiable, but the implication is about as clear as can be - if the Book of Mormon is riddled with factual errors, it cannot be the inspired word of God.

It is an incontrovertible fact that not a single piece of evidence has been found to substantiate the factual basis of the Book of Mormon. In consultation with a diverse group of geologists, anthropologists, historians, archaeologists, linguists, and other experts, the makers of this documentary walk the viewer through the evidence step by step. There is plenty of evidence to support the historical authenticity of both the Old Testament and the New Testament - non-Biblical sources referring to Biblical figures (including Jesus Christ), ancient manuscripts containing some or all of the various Books of the Bible, verifiable locations of important events, evidence of past cultures in the region during the right times, etc. As one expert succinctly puts it, the Bible is archaeologically sound.

In contrast with the Bible, there is no factual basis for the Book of Mormon. There are no ancient manuscripts pre-dating Joseph Smith's discovery in 1830 of the golden plates (which themselves are not extant for any type of investigation). We are told of three large civilizations in the ancient Americas and written records produced over the course of a thousand years, but there is no evidence that any of these large civilizations existed - no ruins, no skeletal remains, no tools or handcrafts. Where are any of the 30+ major cities the Book of Mormon talks about? Why can't the LDS produce a single map corresponding with anything resembling earth's geography? Why have no sites been discovered containing the slightest bit of evidence for the metallurgical accomplishments spoken of in the Book of Mormon? We are told that the Nephite civilization spoke and wrote in the language of Reformed Egyptian, a language that simply never existed on this earth. Not a single one of the metallic coins reportedly used for over a millennium have been found, nor any sign of metallurgical advancement dating back to that time. Why is there no applicable evidence whatsoever from Cumorah, the site of two intense battles that reportedly left hundreds of thousands of warriors dead? Where are the chariot pieces, steel swords, mass graves, etc.? And what of all those horses the warriors rode into battle hundreds of years before horses were first introduced to the New World by the Europeans?

When you break down some of the most basic "facts" contained in the Book of Mormon, it's obvious that many of them are categorically wrong if not impossible. The book talks about animals and plants that were not in that region; there is no evidence of even the most basic metallurgy, let alone steel swords and golden tablets; there's not even the first arrowhead found at the site of two fierce, large-scale battles. Setting aside religion altogether, it's obvious that the Book of Mormon is simply riddled with factual errors. This stands in contrast to the Holy Bible, which is archaeologically, geographically, and historically sound. Whether or not you are a Christian and follow the teachings of Jesus, you can be assured that the people and places referred to in the Bible actually existed; if you are a Mormon, you have to have blind faith in a "Scripture" that is provably false. The primary purpose of this documentary is to challenge Mormons to take a good, hard look at their faith - and it succeeds admirably in doing just that. Two of the most effective interview subjects are LDS anthropologists who set out to prove that the Book of Mormon was factual and ended up leaving the church after failing to come up with a single piece of evidence.
Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R1FZJ4FZIC5R25/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

I would appreciate a discussion with those who believe in Mormonism about their thoughts of the video and what it brings forth after watching it. Is the video inaccurate or wrong? Is it correct and what does that then mean? Etc.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on November 21, 2008, 03:49:54 AM
Quote
We are told that the Nephite civilization spoke [...] in the language of Reformed Egyptian
Wrong. We are told nothing of the sort.
Quote
a language that simply never existed on this earth.
Wrong. Demotic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demotic_(Egyptian)) is a "reformed" Egyptian script. You know, like on the Rosetta Stone, where it was alongside hieroglyphics and Greek.

Kalam, the stuff you quoted can be refuted point by point. Am I interested in doing so? No, but the fact that simple points like these are wrong suggest a lot of stuff they're saying are flat-out lies.

This website is not for explaining anti-Mormon attacks. However, here's a website that is for just that: http://www.fairlds.org. Why look, here's (http://www.fairlds.org/Mormonism_201/) a page responding to at least one Living Hope Ministries video. [EDIT: Whoops, sorry, wrong link, though it's linked to (http://www.fairlds.org/Bible/Bible_vs_the_Book_of_Mormon_Video.html) on that page.]

A sampling:
Quote
In discussing the Book of Mormon we have the second "optical illusion" in this section when the film zooms to a verse in the Book of Mormon (the first was panning an empty landscape while speaking of Jaredite cities): "Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots" (2 Nephi 12:7), suggesting that Book of Mormon culture includes vast numbers of horses and chariots.

What the editors do not tell the viewer is that the verse is a direct quotation of Isaiah 2:7. It may be in the Book of Mormon, but it refers to the Old World. Since the heading of the chapter clearly indicates that it comes from Isaiah, I cannot imagine how the editors could have made the mistake of assuming that this referred to the New World. If they were close enough to take the picture they used, they were close enough to see that this verse was a quotation from Isaiah. The only reasonable conclusion is that they intended to deceive. Ironically, then, the most damning passage about horses they could find in the Book of Mormon is from Isaiah.

The deception continues in the narration: "The Book of Mormon describes the use of horse-drawn chariots during massive battles involving tens of thousands of warriors." This might seem plausible to one who has never read the Book of Mormon and has seen only the Isaiah passage. The statement is absolutely incorrect. Nothing like it appears in the text of the Book of Mormon. Horses are never ridden. Horses are never described as pulling chariots (though we do see the phrase horses and chariots in the text). No battle scene includes either horses or chariots.24

One would think that the film's "Latter-day Saint experts" would have corrected such an error of fact. Unfortunately, the expert quoted makes the very same factual error. "So the stories of riding horses into battle," Wilson claims, "could not have occurred in the Americas." Stories of riding horses into battle do not occur in the Book of Mormon. Wilson's conclusion demonstrates that he has not read the Book of Mormon carefully or that he is simply willing to invent statements about it.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: GreenMonsta on November 21, 2008, 04:23:23 AM
Listen I think you could cut some of this tension with a knife. I am sure that you are all aware that every religion can be disputed. I am catholic and I question parts of my religion every day. That does not mean I don't have faith it just means that I will follow and have faith in what I decide to believe.

 I don't understand the desire to question other peoples faiths and I don't understand why people who claim no faith like atheist/agnostic people find it necessary to to even join the questioning. If someone has faith then let them because it is generally a good thing.

All major religions have one like factor and that is the teaching of good morals. I'll tell you that if a group of people decide to follow and believe in something that I think is completely insane but the end result is a group of people who care about eachother then fine by me.

You won't get anywhere by questioning the beliefs of others. Its not a good habit to get into because all it does is open the doors for hate.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Drakogy on November 21, 2008, 04:42:18 AM
What deems you ready for greater understanding and why would you be condemned for learning such secrets. It is mentioned in the Bible numerous times to seek GOD out.

Matthew 7:6-8
 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

The things the church will reveal to you when you are ready are things apart from the Bible. As we discovered even the church with the greatest intentions can become corrupt.

May I ask what is so wrong about the original Bible?
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on November 21, 2008, 05:53:43 AM
mtlhddoc2:
Quote
I always get lost as soon as someone mentions religion and logic in the same sentence. Logic and religion really have nothing to do with each other, since using your full logical capacities, you cannot logically infer the existence of something noone has ever seen and there is no evidence of anyone ever seen. Belief, however, is another matter. Faith is something which defies logic. You have to have faith that what you believe actually exists. you simply cannot apply faith and logic to teh same argument.

I disagree entirely. You say you have read the Bible, but you ignore Hebrews 11:1: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things unseen." Faith is the evidence of things unseen, and faith requires a degree of knowledge, and often involves logicconsider, for example: Your mother tells you later in the day she will make a blueberry pie. Later in the day, you see her working on some dough, maybe for a crust. An hour later, you notice that the oven is turned on, and something sweetwhich smells like blueberry pieis baking in it. You have faith that there is a blueberry pie in the oven. Have you seen a blueberry pie? No. You have not seen one at all. But you have the unseen evidence of a blueberry pie, and having seen that evidence, you have faith that there is a blueberry pie that you will eventually see. That is what faith is. Faith is founded on evidence of the unseen, not on ignorance. Do not confuse faith for "blind belief", as so many sadly do todaythis is a mistake.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: mtlhddoc2 on November 21, 2008, 06:01:09 AM
I don't understand the desire to question other peoples faiths and I don't understand why people who claim no faith like atheist/agnostic people find it necessary to to even join the questioning. If someone has faith then let them because it is generally a good thing.

I did not question anyone's faith here, so, please, do not interpret it that way. What I questioned was people claiming moral high ground in that their religion is perfect because their church is pure. We all know that no organized religion is pure. It is simply against human nature for that to be the case. Church doctrine is shaped by internal politics. All churches, not just one or the other. I doubt anyone needs examples. Even though i could give at least one on every single religion.

What I will question though, is your claim that faith, of any kind is "generally a good thing". As a "non-believer" I have found that, in most cases, that is not the case. The faith is never just faith, it is the belief that your way is better than my way. and to that end, we see threads like this one. We see abortion clinic murders. We see anti-gay websites. We see planes flown into buildings. We see the 700 Club calling all Muslims out as violent hate mongers. And we see a Mormon presidential candidate shunned by his own party based on his religion. We see the Spanish inquisition. We see splinter groups molesting children. All in the name of faith. But athiests? We are the worst of the bunch, we get it from EVERYONE, even though I have the same morals as most people do, and sometimes even consider myself to be more "moral" than many religious people in some instances. I am against abortion and think divorce should be tougher. Most peo0ple i know are Catholic, pro-abortion and pro-divorce... go figure. Even my father.. he is a devout Catholic. Yet, his wife (my mother) had an abortion while they were married, and yes it was his child and he knew about it, and 20 years later, he divorced her.

People love to quote scripture. But it seems one of the more important ones is left by the wayside. "Judge not lest ye be judged" and "let he who is without sin cast the first stone". The act of judgement from people of faith, is rarely, if ever, from the hope of saving someone else. It is, as human nature dictates, an act of superiority. Even the act of "saving" someone, by converting them, is frequently applied vainly. (See Pope Ratzenberg (sp?) converting the Mulsim man in public). It really comes down to the old "You are wrong and I am right" argument, which is pride. Religion has the unique ability to satisfy 2 of the 7 deadly sins. and often, we can add a third in wrath, since a good many people, of all religions, get inordinately angry and hateful towards those of other persuasions, or those who do not comply with their moral code (such as homosexuals and genetic engineers).

to these ends, I do not judge any of you based on your faith(s). You have every right to pursue your faith in the manner you see fit. But do not judge me, or others, who do not share those beliefs. Judge yourself, first, and last, and only. You will not have to answer to your God based on my faith, only your own. we, as human beings, should only sit in judgement of each other based on human law, and only when appointed to do so by our duly elected government. (IE: jury duty) And even then, our judgement should be tempered by the laws we have enacted to protect each other, from each other...

oh crud, I started rambling... i better cut this off or I will wind up writing a book. Maybe two. Seriously, I can go for days. Rats, I am doing it again.... :)
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on November 21, 2008, 06:07:14 AM
Drakogy:

If you do not think the Bible has changed, then you have more faith in it than Eusebius, one of the fathers of the Church, who lived in the 3rd century. Eusebius wrote (in his History of the Church) that it was almost impossible to find two copies of the Bible which correlated in his own day, as scribes and scholars were making so many amendations.

You'll find, however, answers to many of your objections about Latter-day Saint theology and history at www.fairlds.org (http://www.fairlds.org), as Ookla the Pie has recommended. I recommend you explore that site a bitevery objection you bring up here has already been addressed there.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on November 21, 2008, 06:10:10 AM
mtlhddoc2:

Realize that Atheists, like all other religions (organized or unorganized) have been no angels, either: Consider the Communist Party of China, the Khmer Rouge, etc. Plenty of killing has been done in the name of godlessness, perhaps as much (or more) as in the name of any god.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on November 21, 2008, 06:13:52 AM
Drakogy:

1 Corinthians 3: 2
I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

Hebrews 5: 12
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

And the verse before the one you quoted:
Matthew 7: 6
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

These verses demonstrate that some people are not yet ready for the "meat/pearl" doctrines and need a solid grounding in the first principles of the gospel first before moving on. If you give them pearls too soon, they can turn and rip you up.

Jesus himself taught in parables largely so that only the people who were ready to hear the gospel message in them would understand what he was teaching. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear," he said.

What's "so wrong about the original Bible"? Who said there was anything "so wrong" about it? Mormons believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. The Bible is inspired by God, but it does not claim to be inerrant and is not inerrant. Some errors/conflicts were already pointed out in this thread, but you didn't respond to them.

Mormons do not believe the Book of Mormon is inerrant either, and it doesn't claim to be inerrant. But if there are mistakes, they are the mistakes of menjust as the mistakes in the Bible are the mistakes of men rather than God's mistakes.

Why is there a point in having more scripture than just the Bible? God loves all of his children in all ages and wants to direct them in all ages. Therefore, he has called prophets in modern times and not only in the past. If you rely only on the Bible, you cannot come to an agreement about what the Bible meanslook at all the churches out there that believe in the Bible yet disagree with each other about many doctrines. The Bible therefore is not enough. You need prophets who God speaks to today in order to direct his children to respond to modern trials and tribulations, because there are issues we're facing today which are hardly mentioned in the Bible.

But you are of course right that you shouldn't just believe anyone who says they are a prophet. For that reason, God has given the Holy Ghost to individually confirm to each person, when they hear something claiming to be truth, whether it is true or not.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: mtlhddoc2 on November 21, 2008, 06:17:32 AM
Faith is founded on evidence of the unseen, not on ignorance. Do not confuse faith for "blind belief", as so many sadly do todaythis is a mistake.

You read between the lines a bit too much there.

Faith, as evidence, defies logic, since faith is a feeling.

Your pie analogy does not hold water, because the "faith" in the pie baking is based on observed evidence.

Religious faith is based on an account supposedly written over 2000 years ago, and translated through 6 languages, mostly by hand, mostly by political appointees. You must have faith to believe the word you read are the original intent of the God you believe in. However, those with faith would surely believe that God would make sure his intent, more or less, is carried on through the years in its proper form.

Religion, if put into locical terminology, is a hypothesis. An unproven theory. You are welcome to it, and I applaud you for defending it without malice. But please, do not confuse the faith, with logic. A computer is logical and you could never get a logic model to prove the existence of a higher power. But you could get it to prove their is a pie in the oven.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: mtlhddoc2 on November 21, 2008, 06:22:14 AM
mtlhddoc2:

Realize that Atheists, like all other religions (organized or unorganized) have been no angels, either: Consider the Communist Party of China, the Khmer Rouge, etc. Plenty of killing has been done in the name of godlessness, perhaps as much as in the name of any god.

I would never, and have never, stated that athiests were the perfect being. We are human too. And human beings, by nature are illogical, primal, and brutal creatures. Morality is something you either have, or you dont. It really cannot be taught, it must be learned, experienced, and applied. But it cannot be taught from one person to another. But you dont need religion to be a good person, or a bad person. And religion does not make someone good, or bad, automatically. People are as they are. Bad people exist everywhere, in every religion 9or lack thereof), every race, every gender.
Title: Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on November 21, 2008, 06:25:23 AM
Quote
Faith, as evidence, defies logic, since faith is a feeling.

Your pie analogy does not hold water, because the "faith" in the pie baking is based on observed evidence.

Religious faith is based on an account supposedly written over 2000 years ago, and translated through 6 languages, mostly by hand, mostly by political appointees. You must have faith to believe the word you read are the original intent of the God you believe in. However, those with faith would surely believe that God would make sure his intent, more or less, is carried on through the years in its proper form.


You're drawing up a straw man.

Faith requires evidence. I have faith because I have seen the evidence which underlies it. Skar can tell you the same. Mok Apple Pie can tell you the same. We have seen the evidence of "the pie" which is God, and that is why we have faith!

It is not because of some account supposedly written over 2000 years agoI have my own personal relationship with God; I did not truly believe until I had already expressed faith, which was based solely on the good works I had seen (the fruit, so to speak). You see the evidence, and you come to a conclusion. This is what faith is about.

To claim that faith defies logic and is based on ignorance is to be ignorant about faith.

Oh, and mtlhddoc2: You are familiar with DesCartes, right? Have you ever read his Meditations? DesCartes essentially invented the modern Scientific Method. And he believed that, logically, one can not but believe in God, using the Scientific Method. Of course, DesCartes was not perfect. Neither am I. Neither are you. But it is a fallacy to think that religion and logic can not coincide.
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: little wilson on November 21, 2008, 06:25:43 AM
Drakogy:

Quote
What deems you ready for greater understanding and why would you be condemned for learning such secrets. It is mentioned in the Bible numerous times to seek GOD out.

I had something posted here...I deleted it. Mok did a better job of explaining (not surprising in the least). One little thing, though:

The children of Israel. Moses went up on Mount Sinai. God gave him commandments and a law to give to Israel. When he came back down, they were naked and worshiping a golden calf. He broke the law, went back up the mountain and told God they weren't ready for it and to give him something else. Therefore, God gave Moses the Law of Moses to give to Israel, which he did. When Christ came to give them the Higher Law, the Law of Moses had been so muddled, Christ was nonexistent. They didn't believe him, and so they crucified him. (quick version of the story, anyway)

To add a bit more to what Mok said later in his post about God loving all his children. We can also infer from this that there is MORE scripture than just the Bible and the Book of Mormon. If we can't even accept the current word of God, how in the world are we going to accept more of the written word?....Plus, there's following modern-day prophets of God.

I also think you should check out fairlds.org....it's a good site. It would do a better job of answering your questions....
Title: Re: For Brandon - Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on November 21, 2008, 06:27:07 AM
Quote
But you dont need religion to be a good person, or a bad person. And religion does not make someone good, or bad, automatically. People are as they are. Bad people exist everywhere, in every religion 9or lack thereof), every race, every gender.

I agree completely. This has nothing to do with the truth of the relosophy supposedly held by those individuals, but on their own use of agency.

However, some relosophies encourage people to be more "good" than others.  I think it's no secret that Naziism, for example, isn't going to help one get along with one's neighbors...
Title: Re: Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on November 21, 2008, 06:34:29 AM
I've gone and renamed the thread, as it's no longer about Brandon at all.
Title: Re: Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: Peter Ahlstrom on November 21, 2008, 06:51:30 AM
It should be noted that FairLDS isn't actually a good place to learn about what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe. It's only good for learning what's wrong with anti-Mormon propaganda.

Ultimately, neither anti-Mormons nor apologists will give you a picture of LDS beliefs that has bearing on day-to-day LDS doctrine and worship. Want to know about Mormons? Go to an LDS church for the entire three-hour meeting block (better yet, go to two Sundays of meetings, one of which should be a first Sunday of the month and one not). Want to know the LDS view of listening to modern prophets? Watch an entire session of General Conference with no interruptions (and no popcorn). Want to know why we believe in the Book of Mormon? Read the Book of Mormon.

If you don't want to know what we believe, then don't do those thingsyour choice.
Title: Re: Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: little wilson on November 21, 2008, 06:57:28 AM
It should be noted that FairLDS isn't actually a good place to learn about what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe. It's only good for learning what's wrong with anti-Mormon propaganda.

Well, yeah, but...I get the impression that he probably doesn't want to go check out lds.org...or mormon.org for that matter. And solely based on his posts here, I just can't see him having a desire to go check out a sacrament meeting in a local ward....So this is the next best thing. It's much better than how he's currently getting his info.....

Oh, and I love how you throw in "no popcorn" for the Conference thing.....Do cinnamon rolls count? Because my family has a tradition involving cinnamon rolls and conference. It's good....A little distracting for a few minutes perhaps, but good nonetheless.
Title: Re: Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on November 21, 2008, 06:57:50 AM
Mok has a point, and this holds true of any religionif you want to evaluate any religion, it is best to do so by talking to adherents and reading the beliefs of the religion as written by adherents. Take the religion on its own weight, instead of on the hateful weight of its detractors.

It's kind of like, when choosing a politician, do you base your choice entirely on what bad things one politician has said about the other, or do you actually look at their platform?
Title: Re: Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: CthulhuKefka on November 21, 2008, 09:03:35 AM
I'm not really good at wording things to sound smart or even remotely intelligent, so I'll just say this. :D

I have no problem with religion, or even religious people per se. My only problem comes from people trying to push their beliefs on others. Note, I am not referring to JUST religious people in this statement, everyone does it to an extent. I am the last person to deny anyone the right to practice their own religion, but when that religion or belief begins to effect my life and the lives of my friends and/or family, then there is a problem.

Again, I'm not generalizing any certain religions here, just my two cents.
Title: Re: Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Jade Knight on November 21, 2008, 09:09:59 AM
I feel the exact same way about politics, Cthulhu.  People can believe whatever they want, but the moment they start trying to push their politics on me, by, say drafting laws which affect me...
Title: Re: Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: mtlhddoc2 on November 21, 2008, 01:40:13 PM
Faith requires evidence. I have faith because I have seen the evidence which underlies it. Skar can tell you the same. Mok Apple Pie can tell you the same. We have seen the evidence of "the pie" which is God, and that is why we have faith!

In a scientific method, you must be able to reproduce your evidence and draw the same conclusion. You say you have evidence. But really, all you can say is "I have a relationship with God" - that is not evidence, that is a belief, a feeling, call it personal evidence if you will, you cannot reproduce your evidence for me to see. You have no observable evidence of God or any higher power. If you use y0ur evidence and your "logic" you could prove the existence of aliens, ghosts and the boogie man. DesCartes method was flawed, and has been refined over the years.

Now, again, I am not saying you shouldnt believe as you do. But you cannot prove to me, or anyone else, that what you believe is a fact. No religion can. And that is why it is religion, and not science.
Title: Re: Religion (Potentially sensitive)
Post by: The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers on November 21, 2008, 03:19:34 PM
I'm locking the thread. My post pointing out that this was not about proving or disproving a religion was completely ignored. THat is *NOT* what we do here.

Drakogy, do it again, and you're banned.
Kalam, this is warning number one. Read the thread, *especially* posts by moderators, before you post.