Thursday, March 20, 2008


[J. I've been having a discussion about why atheism is not abnormal, in what ways I think like an atheist, and why I believe the things I do in spite of insisting that belief without evidence is stupid. I think you might find this interesting. Also Cc'ing blog.]

You wrote: "Maybe you could pm on what the evidence your'e writing about is. That goes just beyond the topic drift level I'm comfortable with. But darn it, I'm curious now."

Sure. I'm actually not really sure where to start because I'm so immersed, but one obvious place is the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith said the book came from a record he got from an angel, which he translated with divine help. I've read the book. I've read the testimony of three witnesses who said that they prayed with Joseph, and they all saw an angel who told them the book was true. ( All three of those witnesses joined the Church that Joseph Smith founded. All three of them left it after a while, although two came back at one point. All of them always maintained, even while criticizing Joseph and the Church, that they actually had seen the angel and knew that the book was true. They took enormous amounts of flack for doing so. That speaks to me of someone who really believes what he says, not someone who supported a fraudulent scheme for some crazy reason. There were another 8 witnesses who didn't see the angel, but had a chance to make a thorough, reasonable inspection of the metal plates from which the book was purportedly translated and testify that it actually existed ( Many of them also left the Church eventually, and if they hadn't actually seen the plates someone would have spilled the beans. That gives them credibility in my opinion.

Then you move on to the personal level. There have been numerous occasions when I found that some moral principle which I believed in but most people didn't seem aware of was, surprise, something that the Prophets had taught. Never anything huge, but if the scriptures and the church are true you expect to find them teaching true things, no? Then there's the internal consistency as I learn more about the scriptures and various gospel doctrines--it all makes perfect sense.

And more personal yet. The scriptures say that the Lord will bless you for certain things, like paying tithing, and I've found that as I do those things I am blessed. If he weren't actually there and actively fulfilling his promises, you'd expect paying 10% of gross income to the Church would cause significant financial strain, but he keeps his end of the bargain and things work out pretty well.

He answers my prayers. Doesn't always bail me out completely, but that's also what you would expect from any human relationship. When I ask for help with personal weaknesses, or for the answers to questions, I have _always_ gotten what I ask for. The problem is usually more along the lines of when I don't ask, or don't take the advice I'm given.


"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)

Be pretty if you are, Be witty if you can, But be cheerful if it kills you.

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