Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Discussions about holding onto your faith and beliefs, whether by staying LDS or by exploring and participating in other churches or faiths. The belief in any higher power (including God, Christ, Buddha, or Jedi) is true in this forum. Be kind to others.
Post Reply
okay75
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 09, 2017 8:05 pm

Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by okay75 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:59 pm

Hello Everyone!

This is my first time posting something here. I have struggled with my faith in the church for over 2 years now. I have changed and developed the way I think, not only about the church, but about life in general as I am sure most of us have. I have a working theory on how to live a fulfilling and purposeful, yet intellectually free and expansive life and I thought it would be wise to run it by some community that thinks similarly to me.

So, to start off, I am still a member and I am seriously contemplating remaining a member. I don't have my own family yet (I am only 21), am attending BYUI, and am a return missionary (my faith crises started on my mission). I have only recently been able to almost fully let go of my bitter feelings towards the church after going through my whole faith crisis, reading church history and what not. I have gone from bitter and upset to loving the church again, perhaps even more deeply than I ever did before. None of this, however, is because I have regained my testimony or have returned to an orthodox view of the church. I think it is partly because I have continued spending a lot of time with members while at the same time being candid with my family about the way I think and talking, reading, and listening to members of other faiths, critics of the church, atheists, you name it. I feel I have learned to accept the way people in the church are and have even begun to recognize the beauty in their way of thinking.

So, to get started on my thoughts, I have recently been thinking about the necessity of believing. I have heard some atheists (such as Matt Dillahunty or Dawkins) say that they do not go off of belief or have faith; that their worldviews hinge on empirical evidence. I have come to realize that this cannot be true. Everybody has faith in something. (By faith here I mean belief in something that you have no scientific evidence for). This is evident in their actions. For example, Dawkins states his goal is to get people to think scientifically and to create peace in the world without religion. These sound fine, but their is a flaw when stating this as your goal and then simultaneously saying you don't believe in anything. Dawkins' goals both hinge on a previously accepted axioms that are not provable. These axioms are that people should think scientifically and that human peace is a good thing. Perhaps to some, these are self evident truths, but there is no real world evidence that they are and therefore, his goals hinge on a belief system that Dawkins has previously accepted.

To explain further what I mean, I will attempt to separate moral/religious ideas from scientific ones. Scientific ideas are theories that are based on reliable evidence. Take the theory of evolution for example. The idea is that species evolved from by means of natural selection and genetic mutation. So, we gather evidence. The evidence we have are genetic similarities between all life and more similar DNA among identifiable groups, analogous structures and vestigial elements codifying species into groups and showing progression through time, the fossil record showing certain orders and families living during certain time periods, and observed micro-evolution among mice, bacteria, and dogs. With evolution, we have concrete evidence that work off of no axiom. Scientific observation is entirely independent to the idea of evolution and works to prove or disprove. Morality is very different because of this. For example, if I state that it is a good thing to cheer someone up, then your axiom is that human happiness is indeed important. If you say human happiness is important because it helps us survive, then you are suggesting that it is important for us to survive as a human race. Why is anything good? There is no concrete thing you can point to that states these things are good. One man could come along and say that life is too miserable and so the world should be destroyed. Someone who literally has no belief in anything could not object to this man, except in suggesting that he personally would not like to die in that moment which is an argument entirely devoid of what is best for him and the universe in the long run. Why want to live? To what end are you working? You are simply spawned from some primordial soup.

Simply put, humans are too human to run themselves solely by logic and reason. We are programmed to desire, to love, to fight, to progress towards something, to find happiness, to see beauty, to search for truth, to caste out falsity, anger, death, and to inflict justice on wrongdoers. Ironically, as evolution shaped us to fit best within the natural world, it simultaneously created a need for us to govern ourselves with the supernatural, religion, and morality. Or, perhaps, there is a God that put that within us (not a necessary postulate for my argument but interesting to think about).

I have begun to believe in the church again. I believe that Joseph was a prophet, that Jesus is the Christ, that God has a body of flesh and bone, and that we must strive to follow the Christ that is described by the church. However, when I say "believe" I do not mean belief as applied in the conventional sense. I mean that I believe it in practice. Thomas Carlyle said that "a man's religion is the chief fact in regard to him" but further explained that by religion he does not mean the creed to which a man clings, "rather that which he does practically believe" and the man's duty as a being within this mysterious universe. In other words, religion is that which a man does since belief is made concrete by action. Also, Joseph Smith said, "The most prominent difference in sentiment between the Latter-day Saints and sectarians was, that the latter were all circumscribed by some
peculiar creed, which deprived its members the privilege of believing anything not contained therein, whereas the Latter-day Saints have no creed, but are ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time." History of the Church, 5:215. So, when I say that I believe in the church, I mean that I promise to commit myself to living the way that God (as described by the church) has told me to. That I believe in the common practices (orthopraxy) rather than the common creeds (orthodoxy) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I do this because I am human and order is necessary to my sanity. Also, without my belief, then my morality is foundation-less. I do it because logic and reason alone is inhuman. I choose to believe of my own free will and choice, rather than being compelled by evidence (Terryl Givens).

Now, a follow up question I have posed for myself is, "why do you choose to believe in Mormonism instead of any other church?" Part of it I cannot deny, and that is because I was raised in it and it is a part of me. If I am to believe for my sanity and humanity, then it naturally makes sense to choose that which connects with me most. Another reason it its structure and organization. Thomas Hobbes once said, "Freedom is good, but order is better." The church has the capacity to provide order to morality and yet encourages questioning within the moral landscape of the church. Another reason is the belief that God has a body. God is easy to relate to. He is a God who weeps and literally knows what we have gone through. By believing this and eternal progression, we have specific goals, which again, are needs that all humans have. I also see that for the most part, the church plans and considers the feelings of us personally, in our families, the whole world, and the future of humanity. It attempts to consider all angles of morality. It simultaneously challenges us to develop greater compassion while allowing some wiggle room to not make us too stressed. Also, the church separates us into ward families based on geographical area which challenges us to get along as well as gives our families the structure they need. It truly does take a village to raise a family. In short, the church develops my character and makes me and my family happy in both the short and long run.

I would appreciate any critique of my logic and any questions so I can clarify what I mean to say.

Thank you!

User avatar
Ghost
Posts: 206
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:40 pm

Re: Faith and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by Ghost » Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:10 am

Welcome to the site, and thanks for sharing your ideas.

I have had similar thoughts regarding the lack of any objective foundation for morality. While I still live by and promote many of the moral principles I learned from the LDS church and society at large, I find it disappointing to consider that all such principles are simply arbitrary or evolutionary. My instinct is to want things to be right in a cosmic sense, not just what my society has settled on or what happens to feel right to me at the moment.

I also remain engaged with the LDS church and I enjoy my association with it, even though I don't know that I can make a positive statement of belief even in the nuanced way that you have here. It's a part of my identity that I don't think I can remove, but at the same time I don't really want to remove it. I've been lucky in that I've been able to largely take things on my own terms for several years now, though I don't know that I will get away with that in the long term.

okay75
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 09, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by okay75 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:46 am

It certainly is difficult to navigate the moral landscape. I think the best bet we have is to describe things that are spiritual in terms of spiritual evidence, though I am not sure what would be meant by spiritual evidence since simply saying feelings can justify any number of religious views or belief system. Maybe there are certain things that the vast majority of humans do agree upon but if we use that as a means of evidence then it is not really spiritual is it? Also, it sounds weak to suggest that common feelings or beliefs of man in the present should have any bearing on what is ultimate spiritual truth...

User avatar
slavereeno
Posts: 866
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:30 am
Location: QC, AZ

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by slavereeno » Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:44 pm

Welcome.
Ghost wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:10 am
I don't have my own family yet
My only advice would be to be honest with yourself and any potential spouse about where you are. If you fall in love with a TBM and this isn't at least addressed, there could be trouble 20 years from now that you can't necessarily see right now.
okay75 wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:59 pm
Morality is very different because of this. For example, if I state that it is a good thing to cheer someone up, then your axiom is that human happiness is indeed important. If you say human happiness is important because it helps us survive, then you are suggesting that it is important for us to survive as a human race. Why is anything good? There is no concrete thing you can point to that states these things are good. One man could come along and say that life is too miserable and so the world should be destroyed.
Often times I think we don't give enough credit to the social and psychological sciences and their ability to provide evidences for truths about ourselves as humans. I read James Fowler's "Stages of Faith" this year and I found it helpful as I navigate these waters. Many of the ideas you are positing relate to his work. He suggests that faith is essential to human existence, but that we conflate belief and faith in a way that doesn't reflect reality. That the two should be decoupled in our minds and patterns. I am also reading "The Book of Joy" with the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu, which includes perspectives on human joy from two different faith traditions and from a purely scientific perspective and I am amazed at how much of what I considered "truth" that only the LDS church had is and has been known by others and for a lot longer. The real answer to morality is "Do you personally want to have lasting joy in your life?" If the answer is no, I am not sure any ideology is going to help you. If however the answer is yes there are several options to finding that spiritual guidance that will take you there, while the LDS church may be among them its not necessarily optimal, and certainly sub-optimal for most of us on this planet.
okay75 wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:59 pm
Simply put, humans are too human to run themselves solely by logic and reason. We are programmed to desire, to love, to fight, to progress towards something, to find happiness, to see beauty, to search for truth, to caste out falsity, anger, death, and to inflict justice on wrongdoers.
Unless your logic factors in human emotion. Logic about humans would be incomplete without it. This is coming from someone who still holds a literal belief in an "other" that we may call God and still goes to church every week etc. (though I claim no knowledge as to the nature of "God" i am still working that out)
okay75 wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:59 pm
However, when I say "believe" I do not mean belief as applied in the conventional sense. I mean that I believe it in practice.
Perhaps "Faith" is a better word than "Belief" in this case. Fowler's notion of the word is very similar to what you are saying here. Its an allegiance, as in fielty. "Faith" ends up being a powerful word in this case.
okay75 wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:59 pm
Now, a follow up question I have posed for myself is, "why do you choose to believe in Mormonism instead of any other church?" Part of it I cannot deny, and that is because I was raised in it and it is a part of me. If I am to believe for my sanity and humanity, then it naturally makes sense to choose that which connects with me most.
Fowler suggests a symbolic understanding that what you "Believe" in is the truth behind the symbols that compose a doctrine. For example, Christ teaches Love they Neighbor as thyself, a good principle, Buddhists have similar teachings, as do other religions, and sociologists learn that egocentric sociopaths have a hard time connecting with other humans, which is a major component of mental health. So the truth is there abroad, but if you use a specific symbol that works for you, knowing that its a symbol then it makes sense.

My entire family on both sides are in to Mormonism up to their eyeballs. For me personally, I can make this my hill to die on and try to shout it from the rooftops - or lean to live with the warts and try to make the best of it. I haven't made up my mind as of yet, but I know I value my relationships with my family, and I know that most (if any) won't be convinced by my attempts to bring them to my point of view. At the moment I am staying, but if my family situation were different I would perhaps make a different choice. Be careful what you choose now, it may have ramifications that last the rest of your life.

okay75
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 09, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by okay75 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:24 pm

My only advice would be to be honest with yourself and any potential spouse about where you are. If you fall in love with a TBM and this isn't at least addressed, there could be trouble 20 years from now that you can't necessarily see right now.
Thank you for your advice! And yes, I definitely will be open with anyone I would be dating. It might just be an immediate turn off for many which sucks but it is how it is I guess. I just can't see myself living outside the church very well so I would like to marry someone within it but you know...
Often times I think we don't give enough credit to the social and psychological sciences and their ability to provide evidences for truths about ourselves as humans. I read James Fowler's "Stages of Faith" this year and I found it helpful as I navigate these waters. Many of the ideas you are positing relate to his work. He suggests that faith is essential to human existence, but that we conflate belief and faith in a way that doesn't reflect reality. That the two should be decoupled in our minds and patterns. I am also reading "The Book of Joy" with the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu, which includes perspectives on human joy from two different faith traditions and from a purely scientific perspective and I am amazed at how much of what I considered "truth" that only the LDS church had is and has been known by others and for a lot longer. The real answer to morality is "Do you personally want to have lasting joy in your life?" If the answer is no, I am not sure any ideology is going to help you. If however the answer is yes there are several options to finding that spiritual guidance that will take you there, while the LDS church may be among them its not necessarily optimal, and certainly sub-optimal for most of us on this planet.
I think you are right. There are loads of places to get spiritual truth, but I think eventually there needs to be an ultimate consensus or choice among all humans to some sort of system and basic principles to gathering that truth and I think the church does that pretty well. The church may not be the only option but I think a lot of its methodology and principles need to be preserved through the ages.
Unless your logic factors in human emotion. Logic about humans would be incomplete without it. This is coming from someone who still holds a literal belief in an "other" that we may call God and still goes to church every week etc. (though I claim no knowledge as to the nature of "God" i am still working that out)

This is true. Logic and emotion are interconnected. I guess what I really meant to say was scientific thinking based on empirical evidence. That alone is really insuffucient.


My entire family on both sides are in to Mormonism up to their eyeballs. For me personally, I can make this my hill to die on and try to shout it from the rooftops - or lean to live with the warts and try to make the best of it. I haven't made up my mind as of yet, but I know I value my relationships with my family, and I know that most (if any) won't be convinced by my attempts to bring them to my point of view. At the moment I am staying, but if my family situation were different I would perhaps make a different choice. Be careful what you choose now, it may have ramifications that last the rest of your life.
I also think the church is great for children. I read "Navigating Mormon Faith Crises" by Thomas Mcconkie and found it to be really inciteful for this. He talks about different developmental stages (he is a psychologist) and relates to how they are reflected within the Mormon community and how important it is that Mormonism provides a good place for the beginning stages of development but lacks a bit in the latter stages. I just think it is so important for children to be taught within the good moral framework the church provides. It sounds like this book is similar to "Stages of Faith" which I want to read now.
Last edited by okay75 on Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
GoodBoy
Posts: 404
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:32 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by GoodBoy » Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:25 pm

I have two daughters that are attending BYU. Fitting into that society requires at least a certain amount of belief. I'm glad you found that.

I've noticed that really old and wise people don't claim to know any answers. They just hang back and watch. In contrast the more naive, or limited a person's experience is, the more they are convinced they are right and everybody else is wrong.

The depressing truth is that there really aren't any answers. If there were, the millions of much smarter people than you or I are would have figured it out by now. It is arrogant to believe that we are on the verge of figuring it all out where millions of others have failed. All of us are wandering.

I have concluded that there is no such thing as objective morality. Morality is what you define it to be. For me, I have defined "good" as helping others, and "bad" as hurting others. That is about it. Even that isn't objective or absolute. As you stated, different societies have established rules that people adopt as morals, but there is nothing sacred or absolute about them.

You sound like you would be super interested to learn more about the emerging field of evolutionary psychology. It is a simple theory that explains human behavior better than anything else that I know of. It is one of those simple ideas that makes everything kind of fall into place. It explains love, family cohesiveness, community, desire for power and control, men vs. women differences, why we are driven to achieve or earn money, why soldiers fight, willingness to hurt others for personal gain, marriage, cheating in marriage, what men are really looking for, and what women are really looking for in relationships, etc...
Always been the good kid, but I wanted to know more, and to find and test truth.

okay75
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 09, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by okay75 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:36 pm

I have concluded that there is no such thing as objective morality. Morality is what you define it to be. For me, I have defined "good" as helping others, and "bad" as hurting others. That is about it. Even that isn't objective or absolute. As you stated, different societies have established rules that people adopt as morals, but there is nothing sacred or absolute about them.
I suppose this is true. I guess we really can only place something as objective by coming to some common consensus but that doesn't make it the real truth. I think artificially placing morality while recognizing that is what we are doing, we are capable of maintaining stability while keeping open the possibility and searching for real ultimate meaning.
You sound like you would be super interested to learn more about the emerging field of evolutionary psychology. It is a simple theory that explains human behavior better than anything else that I know of. It is one of those simple ideas that makes everything kind of fall into place. It explains love, family cohesiveness, community, desire for power and control, men vs. women differences, why we are driven to achieve or earn money, why soldiers fight, willingness to hurt others for personal gain, marriage, cheating in marriage, what men are really looking for, and what women are really looking for in relationships, etc...
Totally! Do you know any books

User avatar
GoodBoy
Posts: 404
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:32 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by GoodBoy » Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:58 pm

okay75 wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:36 pm
Totally! Do you know any books
"The Moral Animal" by Robert Wright is what I am reading right now.

The basic idea is that if you accept that humans evolved over time, then our emotions are akin to animal "instincts". Our emotions, which we have very little control over, are the oldest, most powerful, and most undeniable parts of our brains. These parts of our brains evolved to help men in the stone age (about 95% of human evolution happened in the stone age) survive and reproduce. All of our strongest emotions are tied to making us survive and reproduce in a stone-age hunter-gatherer tribe. For example, getting kicked out of your tribe for a hairless, weak, and slow human in the stone age is pretty much the end of your chances for survival and reproduction, whereas being accepted and admired, or even leading the tribe greatly increased your chances of survival and reproducing. So when we get ostracized from our "tribe" (Mormonism) we feel like crap and are unhappy indeed. It has nothing to do with Mormonism and everything to do with it being our tribe. If you were a young Muslim in a community that put value (young lady admiration especially) on the strength of your "testimony" in Mohammad, you would really want to believe in Mohammad and you would likely be a zealot for Islam.

We rarely use our brains to make rational decisions. We use our rational brains to justify the decisions that we already made with our emotions.

Go through all of the strongest emotions that you feel, and you will find at their root survival and reproduction of yourself or those genetically close to you.

You can use this knowledge to help you make better decisions for your life. For example, if you want to be happy, you need a tribe. This means that if you can't fit into Mormonism, then you need to consciously work to find a new tribe where you feel like people "have your back" else you will probably be happier as an active member of the church.
Always been the good kid, but I wanted to know more, and to find and test truth.

okay75
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 09, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by okay75 » Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:01 am

If you were a young Muslim in a community that put value (young lady admiration especially) on the strength of your "testimony" in Mohammad, you would really want to believe in Mohammad and you would likely be a zealot for Islam.

We rarely use our brains to make rational decisions. We use our rational brains to justify the decisions that we already made with our emotions.

Go through all of the strongest emotions that you feel, and you will find at their root survival and reproduction of yourself or those genetically close to you.

You can use this knowledge to help you make better decisions for your life. For example, if you want to be happy, you need a tribe. This means that if you can't fit into Mormonism, then you need to consciously work to find a new tribe where you feel like people "have your back" else you will probably be happier as an active member of the church.
I think you may be right that I would remain Muslim if I were born Muslim but I have more logistical issues with Islam than I do with Mormonism. I think Mormonism can evolve easier than Islam because of the stress placed in Mormonism on personal revelation and continuing revelation from modern prophets but at the same time the Church has the structure of Islam. Maybe that is my bias talking but you know... Also, I don't think the Church doesn't also need further restoration. Perhaps there are certain things from Islam we should adapt into our methodology. I like that the church teaches we go find and gather truth.
I would agree that being part of a tribe is a necessary construct within humanity simply because we are human and I think the church maintains this very well. I like the quote from David Hume, "Reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions."

User avatar
Emower
Posts: 869
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:35 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by Emower » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:36 pm

Hey, I am really glad you are here. We need some different voices around here, and if you are willing to engage that would be great.
okay75 wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:59 pm
but their is a flaw when stating this as your goal and then simultaneously saying you don't believe in anything.
I dont know that Dawkins says he doesn't believe in anything. He doesn't believe in a lot, but he believes in science I think. That is something and science is something that is self-evidently true. Maybe I am wrong, I have actually never read his stuff. Its on my list.
Ironically, as evolution shaped us to fit best within the natural world, it simultaneously created a need for us to govern ourselves with the supernatural, religion, and morality. Or, perhaps, there is a God that put that within us
It is interesting to think about why that is. Perhaps to advance as a species we needed community. Where do we find community? In commonality. Where is commonality? In explaining the unknown. This is done very well with religion. Perhaps there is a god who put that into us. but it is equally likely that there might not be.
I have begun to believe in the church again. I believe that Joseph was a prophet, that Jesus is the Christ, that God has a body of flesh and bone, and that we must strive to follow the Christ that is described by the church.
I'm glad you can do that. I wish sometimes that I could go back. If it makes you happy and allows you to evolve into something you like, go for it.
Also, Joseph Smith said, "The most prominent difference in sentiment between the Latter-day Saints and sectarians was, that the latter were all circumscribed by some peculiar creed, which deprived its members the privilege of believing anything not contained therein, whereas the Latter-day Saints have no creed, but are ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time."
The problem you run into there is that nowadays, the saints definitely have a creed. You may not like the creed, and you may not include it in your orthopraxy, but it is there and more often then not it will cause you some serious beef with someone.
I do it because logic and reason alone is inhuman. I choose to believe of my own free will and choice, rather than being compelled by evidence (Terryl Givens).
Whatever gets you through the night. But what gets a ton of people through the night is having things make sense. And the orthopraxy and orthodoxy of the church do. not. make. sense.
the church plans and considers the feelings of us personally, in our families, the whole world, and the future of humanity
You must not be gay, black, planning to be single your whole life, or a member living in Haiti.
Also, the church separates us into ward families based on geographical area which challenges us to get along as well as gives our families the structure they need. It truly does take a village to raise a family. In short, the church develops my character and makes me and my family happy in both the short and long run.
Thats great. I am glad Teryl Givens has had such an impact in your life. It hasn't done it for me, most of what you have written doesn't answer the question of why one has to accomplish all this is the Mormon church specifically. But it doesn't have to. The part I bolded is the only part that matters. Life is too short to make yourself unhappy. So find what it is that makes you happy and do it. If that includes the church, more power to you. Just try to make it a better place for others while you are there.

okay75
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 09, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by okay75 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:49 pm

Hey, I am really glad you are here. We need some different voices around here, and if you are willing to engage that would be great.
Thanks! So, I have changed some of my perspectives recently on some of the things I originally wrote. So if anything I say now contradicts former things I said then don't be surprised.
I dont know that Dawkins says he doesn't believe in anything. He doesn't believe in a lot, but he believes in science I think. That is something and science is something that is self-evidently true. Maybe I am wrong, I have actually never read his stuff. Its on my list.


I heard Dawkins state that he doesn't have faith in anything before but maybe he just wasn't on his game that day I am not sure. Some of the earlier things I said were not accurate about the distinction between science and morality. Science is in fact very axiomatic. We believe that things acted similarly in the past as they do now and that the laws of physics will not change tomorrow. These are all assumptions and if the assumptions are not true then all of science goes down the hole. We do have our own individual histories as evidence that the assumption is true, but no solid evidence for it.So, yes Dawkins would have to believe to do science at all, not just with his moral life.
It is interesting to think about why that is. Perhaps to advance as a species we needed community. Where do we find community? In commonality. Where is commonality? In explaining the unknown. This is done very well with religion. Perhaps there is a god who put that into us. but it is equally likely that there might not be.


I agree.
The problem you run into there is that nowadays, the saints definitely have a creed. You may not like the creed, and you may not include it in your orthopraxy, but it is there and more often then not it will cause you some serious beef with someone.


I agree. Mainly my reason for using the quote from Joseph is that members might give credence to it. It is pretty contradictory to the church nowadays but maybe doesn't need to be.
Whatever gets you through the night. But what gets a ton of people through the night is having things make sense. And the orthopraxy and orthodoxy of the church do. not. make. sense.


Yeah, I struggle getting through the night at times even with my nuanced approach to Mormonism. If something doesn't make sense to me, I cannot get myself to leave it alone. I think that may be a good quality, but it can be depressing as well. Nonetheless, I disagree that there is much of member's orthopraxy that is bad. I mean just a typical member is devoted to service, cheering people up, reading scriptures daily, praying (beneficial as a form of meditation if nothing else), attending a family-like community meeting weekly, and focusing on developing character. I think a lot of that makes sense which is why leaving the church is such a dilemma for me. The orthodoxy though is near complete hog wash, so I agree with that.
You must not be gay, black, planning to be single your whole life, or a member living in Haiti.
You are right, I am none of those things. I am not sure what is bad overall for members in Haiti. I think the tithing thing needs to be loosened for sure if that is what you are referring to, but having served my mission in some pretty poor places on the border of Mexico, I know that lots of the poor don't actually give credence to tithing and the benefit of having a community that strives towards excellence in such rough areas can do wonders on the youth. However, I do not think the church environment is for everyone and I agree with the first three groups, with maybe a not-so-sure stance on how hard being a member is for black people today. I think the church can be very accommodating nowadays to different races. It still would be challenging knowing that God didn't accept your skin color for the majority of church history.
Thats great. I am glad Teryl Givens has had such an impact in your life. It hasn't done it for me, most of what you have written doesn't answer the question of why one has to accomplish all this is the Mormon church specifically. But it doesn't have to. The part I bolded is the only part that matters. Life is too short to make yourself unhappy. So find what it is that makes you happy and do it. If that includes the church, more power to you. Just try to make it a better place for others while you are there.
Perhaps it doesn't have to be done in the Mormon church. I don't know. The main parts that drive me away from the church is this incessant desire to accept feelings as viable evidence for God and the lack of critical thinking that is communally allowed in classes. I would like an organization that works like the church but without those two, honestly very annoying things that hurt members' general well-being. I think those two are also the root problems to the fact that so many member are not accommodating to gays or single people. I have a lot of personal experiences within the church that I think were crucial to my own development and that is mostly why I am not sure I would ever leave. I want that for my family and friends but I also don't want them to be affected by the no thinking culture. So, I am really torn on the subject. I want to make the church a better place, but I don't know how far I can go doing that without getting myself excommunicated...

User avatar
Linked
Posts: 781
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 4:04 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by Linked » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:16 pm

Hi Okay75, I've enjoyed reading through your thread. I just wanted to respond to one of your comments on science.
okay75 wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:49 pm
I dont know that Dawkins says he doesn't believe in anything. He doesn't believe in a lot, but he believes in science I think. That is something and science is something that is self-evidently true. Maybe I am wrong, I have actually never read his stuff. Its on my list.


I heard Dawkins state that he doesn't have faith in anything before but maybe he just wasn't on his game that day I am not sure. Some of the earlier things I said were not accurate about the distinction between science and morality. Science is in fact very axiomatic. We believe that things acted similarly in the past as they do now and that the laws of physics will not change tomorrow. These are all assumptions and if the assumptions are not true then all of science goes down the hole. We do have our own individual histories as evidence that the assumption is true, but no solid evidence for it.So, yes Dawkins would have to believe to do science at all, not just with his moral life.
Science means a lot of different things to different people. I like google's definition:
[Science is] the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.
When you run that through humans you are bound to get beliefs about what is being studied. The human mind is built to make narratives no matter how much information they have. But the beauty of science is that those beliefs don't really matter, just keep observing and experimenting to see more clearly how the universe works. Ditch your beliefs when disproven, hold to them when proven. Beliefs and assumptions come and go, but striving to take an unbiased look at the universe is the heart of science.

If the current assumptions are not true then they will be disproven and replaced with new and better ones.

As for the laws of physics not changing in time or space, there are plenty of hypotheses out there that posit changing physics. The Inflation Model of cosmology suggests that from 10^-36 to 10^-32 seconds after the big bang the universe expanded very rapidly, then slowed down significantly. This model may not require different underlying physics though.

Another hypothesis that has had a harder time being proven is that the gravitational constant changes at very large scales. This hypothesis was created to account for having far more gravity in the universe than visible matter accounts for. Dark matter and dark energy are more accepted explanations, though humanity has struggled to directly view dark matter or energy as they are dark.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

okay75
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 09, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by okay75 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:40 pm

When you run that through humans you are bound to get beliefs about what is being studied. The human mind is built to make narratives no matter how much information they have. But the beauty of science is that those beliefs don't really matter, just keep observing and experimenting to see more clearly how the universe works. Ditch your beliefs when disproven, hold to them when proven. Beliefs and assumptions come and go, but striving to take an unbiased look at the universe is the heart of science.

If the current assumptions are not true then they will be disproven and replaced with new and better ones.

As for the laws of physics not changing in time or space, there are plenty of hypotheses out there that posit changing physics. The Inflation Model of cosmology suggests that from 10^-36 to 10^-32 seconds after the big bang the universe expanded very rapidly, then slowed down significantly. This model may not require different underlying physics though.

Another hypothesis that has had a harder time being proven is that the gravitational constant changes at very large scales. This hypothesis was created to account for having far more gravity in the universe than visible matter accounts for. Dark matter and dark energy are more accepted explanations, though humanity has struggled to directly view dark matter or energy as they are dark.
Thank you for your comments! I understand what you mean but I suppose I meant the assumption of continuity in a more general sense instead of the exceptions. Suggesting that cosmological constants changed at the beginning of the universe is perfectly sound and doesn't hurt the scientific method. However, if we were somehow to discover that we have no guarantee that when one pool ball strikes into another, it will transfer its energy into the latter, then we might really just be wasting our time with science. Discovering such a thing would really guarantee that our progress in science would be limited to the next time that the laws of physics change on us again. We work off of these assumptions or beliefs for the sake of science. But, I think you are right that science as a general principle would remain intact regardless of how versatile the laws of physics are, its just that science's practicality would very much be limited.

User avatar
oliver_denom
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2016 4:09 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by oliver_denom » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:29 pm

okay75 wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:59 pm
I have begun to believe in the church again. I believe that Joseph was a prophet, that Jesus is the Christ, that God has a body of flesh and bone, and that we must strive to follow the Christ that is described by the church. However, when I say "believe" I do not mean belief as applied in the conventional sense. I mean that I believe it in practice. Thomas Carlyle said that "a man's religion is the chief fact in regard to him" but further explained that by religion he does not mean the creed to which a man clings, "rather that which he does practically believe" and the man's duty as a being within this mysterious universe. In other words, religion is that which a man does since belief is made concrete by action. Also, Joseph Smith said, "The most prominent difference in sentiment between the Latter-day Saints and sectarians was, that the latter were all circumscribed by some
peculiar creed, which deprived its members the privilege of believing anything not contained therein, whereas the Latter-day Saints have no creed, but are ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time." History of the Church, 5:215. So, when I say that I believe in the church, I mean that I promise to commit myself to living the way that God (as described by the church) has told me to. That I believe in the common practices (orthopraxy) rather than the common creeds (orthodoxy) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I do this because I am human and order is necessary to my sanity. Also, without my belief, then my morality is foundation-less. I do it because logic and reason alone is inhuman. I choose to believe of my own free will and choice, rather than being compelled by evidence (Terryl Givens).

Now, a follow up question I have posed for myself is, "why do you choose to believe in Mormonism instead of any other church?" Part of it I cannot deny, and that is because I was raised in it and it is a part of me. If I am to believe for my sanity and humanity, then it naturally makes sense to choose that which connects with me most. Another reason it its structure and organization. Thomas Hobbes once said, "Freedom is good, but order is better." The church has the capacity to provide order to morality and yet encourages questioning within the moral landscape of the church. Another reason is the belief that God has a body. God is easy to relate to. He is a God who weeps and literally knows what we have gone through. By believing this and eternal progression, we have specific goals, which again, are needs that all humans have. I also see that for the most part, the church plans and considers the feelings of us personally, in our families, the whole world, and the future of humanity. It attempts to consider all angles of morality. It simultaneously challenges us to develop greater compassion while allowing some wiggle room to not make us too stressed. Also, the church separates us into ward families based on geographical area which challenges us to get along as well as gives our families the structure they need. It truly does take a village to raise a family. In short, the church develops my character and makes me and my family happy in both the short and long run.
It would help me if I could summarize what you've got here into a couple of simple ideas.

1) Faith and morality are good because they help keep us sane and ground our actions. Because morality can't be proven objectively, we need a faith community who will treat their subjective morality as if it were objectively true, and then hold us to the same. It isn't objective, but it's pragmatically good enough.

2) As long as we recognize that all morality is objective, then why not pick the faith community we were born with and are most familiar?

There's nothing wrong with this. It's been the mainline protestant philosophy for a very long time, and as long as the Mormon faith community is working for you, then you should be fine. The problem you'll run into as you grow older, get married, and have children, is that there many ways that the church works for you now, but may not in the future. For example, what if you find out that one of your children is gay? You may be able to justify your own membership, but the moment you have to stretch those justifications over other people, you may find that they simply don't work. What if your spouse decides that they can no longer be a member? Someone who actually believes Mormonism provides an objective morality, is going to behave differently in these situations who believes it's actually subjective, but is content to treat it objectively in most situations. For the former, they will bend reality until it fits their predefined mold. For the latter, they are more likely to seek other options.

That alone is enough reason to stop and consider whether it's a good idea to marry in the temple and raise children in the church if your spouse isn't thinking about Mormonism in the same way. Your reactions, feelings, and thoughts will eventually split into opposite directions. In the short term, in your current situation, playing along will definitely make everyone happy, but it may not be the best long term solution.

My only other comment would be to challenge the assumption that a faith community is necessary to be moral. If morality can't be objective, then even the church had to acquire it's beliefs from other human beings. The church so strongly sells the fiction that people can't be good without the gospel, that you may want to question where these thoughts are coming from. Morality isn't developed by memorizing a list of dos and don'ts. It's developed through our feelings and interactions with other people, and most of it before we reach puberty. If you were raised by and grew up with people who you consider to be moral, then congratulations, that near instinctive morality has already made a permanent home inside your brain. You probably couldn't undo it if you tried.

Yes, the church can be used as a tool for you to improve yourself, but never make the mistake of believing that it's the church doing that work. If you become a better person, then it's because of what you're doing and not the other way around. The church is dependent on all of us, and not the other way around. It's why I want to scream during testimony meeting when someone says that they wouldn't love their family if not for the church. YES YOU WOULD! They make it sound as if everyone is just a meeting away from becoming serial killers and alcoholics. You can be a good person without the church, not because you have to be, but because you choose it. If you make mistakes, and you will, then you'll have to deal with the consequences. If you're smart, then you won't repeat the same mistake twice. Overtime, you get better at life and better at choosing. When you wrong someone else, then try to make amends and attempt to do better. The best gift you can give someone is forgiveness, and maybe you can manage some for yourself. There's no bishop required.

In short, morality is an activity that humans do. Birds fly, dogs bark, and human beings develop moral systems. There's no need for so much worry or hand wringing. The only reason this is an issue for you at all, is because Mormonism claims that it alone is the exclusive arbiter of good and bad, and that salvation can only come by submitting to its authority. If you were to make the adult decision to go try another religion, then the believers in your life would completely lose their minds and likely make your life a living hell, therefore you feel the need to find justification to stay. I get it, but the fact that you have to jump through so many hoops just to get yourself through the front door should be a warning sign that not all is well.
“You want to know something? We are still in the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages--they haven't ended yet.” - Vonnegut

L'enfer, c'est les autres - JP

User avatar
EternityIsNow
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:48 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by EternityIsNow » Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:13 am

Interesting discussion. Here is a comment about the evolutionary need for a religion. I don't believe it is religion per se that coevolved with humans. If you consider how early hominids differentiated from their ancestor primates, a primary difference was the development of frontal lobes. This allowed early humans to do many things, particularly to think, plan, communicate, and eventually to imagine. I believe the creativity, the imagination, over time became essential for survival. Early humans were able to imagine stories, mythologies, with or without a religious type of belief system. And the stories were essential in transmitting knowledge. Transmitting between generations or just between different tribal groups. Imagine if you are a migratory early hominid, you would need to transmit information about the migratory route, the time of year to move, how to hunt or forage in different biomes, things like that. Over time, civilization emerged and the idea of a common moral or ethical code emerged. And these moral rules had survival advantage, and needed to be transmitted, so social morality would become interwoven with this imaginative capacity of the human brain through systems of story, ritual, and art. But I don't believe there is any evolutionary requirement that those systems be religious. They simply need to be stories capable of transmitting the needed information, or improving the emotional stability of the group or tribe members. That can be religion, but does not need to be. In the modern era, I believe you could say media, hobby groups, all sorts of literature and art forms, and of course scientific knowledge, perform a similar function to religion. They are mechanisms of using our imagination to transmit moral and social ethical knowledge, and they can create stability within the greater tribe of society.

There is a free online course at EdX that covers this type of information, it is called The Science of Religion. Maybe something you would find interesting.

okay75
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 09, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by okay75 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:41 pm

Thank you for your advice!
1) Faith and morality are good because they help keep us sane and ground our actions. Because morality can't be proven objectively, we need a faith community who will treat their subjective morality as if it were objectively true, and then hold us to the same. It isn't objective, but it's pragmatically good enough.

2) As long as we recognize that all morality is objective, then why not pick the faith community we were born with and are most familiar?
Yeah I think you understand what I am saying pretty well.
There's nothing wrong with this. It's been the mainline protestant philosophy for a very long time, and as long as the Mormon faith community is working for you, then you should be fine. The problem you'll run into as you grow older, get married, and have children, is that there many ways that the church works for you now, but may not in the future. For example, what if you find out that one of your children is gay? You may be able to justify your own membership, but the moment you have to stretch those justifications over other people, you may find that they simply don't work. What if your spouse decides that they can no longer be a member? Someone who actually believes Mormonism provides an objective morality, is going to behave differently in these situations who believes it's actually subjective, but is content to treat it objectively in most situations. For the former, they will bend reality until it fits their predefined mold. For the latter, they are more likely to seek other options.

That alone is enough reason to stop and consider whether it's a good idea to marry in the temple and raise children in the church if your spouse isn't thinking about Mormonism in the same way. Your reactions, feelings, and thoughts will eventually split into opposite directions. In the short term, in your current situation, playing along will definitely make everyone happy, but it may not be the best long term solution.
You mean point 2 is mainline protestant philosophy right? Perhaps not point 1. For the rest of your statement, yes, you are right. It is running a risk. It is a very conflicting thing. Not only if my child were to be gay but it could be detrimental for any of my kids. They could be strongly influenced to go along with the no-think culture and using feelings as evidence for objective truths which I would not be happy with. Even if I were to find someone that would accept my philosophy, it is probable that I couldn't get myself to accept theirs and agree to the way they raise my kids. That being said, 90% of Americans believe in God and 70% are Christian. Also, a majority of non-believers are guys so the dating pool is extremely small if I want to find someone like me. I think that Mormons are more fundamentalist than the majority of other believers though so perhaps there are more than just statistics show. Plus, me going to graduate school in a couple years funnels the population to an intellectual few which would also improve my chances so maybe I shouldn't even try the dating game here, I don't know.
My only other comment would be to challenge the assumption that a faith community is necessary to be moral. If morality can't be objective, then even the church had to acquire it's beliefs from other human beings. The church so strongly sells the fiction that people can't be good without the gospel, that you may want to question where these thoughts are coming from. Morality isn't developed by memorizing a list of dos and don'ts. It's developed through our feelings and interactions with other people, and most of it before we reach puberty. If you were raised by and grew up with people who you consider to be moral, then congratulations, that near instinctive morality has already made a permanent home inside your brain. You probably couldn't undo it if you tried.

Yes, the church can be used as a tool for you to improve yourself, but never make the mistake of believing that it's the church doing that work. If you become a better person, then it's because of what you're doing and not the other way around. The church is dependent on all of us, and not the other way around. It's why I want to scream during testimony meeting when someone says that they wouldn't love their family if not for the church. YES YOU WOULD! They make it sound as if everyone is just a meeting away from becoming serial killers and alcoholics. You can be a good person without the church, not because you have to be, but because you choose it. If you make mistakes, and you will, then you'll have to deal with the consequences. If you're smart, then you won't repeat the same mistake twice. Overtime, you get better at life and better at choosing. When you wrong someone else, then try to make amends and attempt to do better. The best gift you can give someone is forgiveness, and maybe you can manage some for yourself. There's no bishop required.
I still think that it is important to have a solid community. I truly believe that it takes a village to raise a child. I know there were loads of things that the church did to help me as a teenager. Especially the expectation to serve a mission. I really needed to learn the things I learned on the mission and I needed a community to hold me to it, otherwise I doubt I would've gone. Perhaps not Mormonism, but some with a good organization. I have thought about trying a Unitarian church some time. I just wish Atheists were better at community and structure. The problem is that not only are Atheist groups rare, they also are just social groups with no goal or purpose tying them together. They don't worked towards common goals and so it really diminishes the power of community.

You are right that people don't become serial killers, but they don't become saints either. I do agree that the idea that God is necessary to maintain stable morals is only true because religion says it is so. After losing my testimony, I became extremely nihilistic. I blame the church for that, not my lack of faith. This is partly why I wouldn't adhere to creeds, but I still think it is necessary to adhere to practical beliefs in specific duties and engendering a sense of need to accomplish these duties within the community.
In short, morality is an activity that humans do. Birds fly, dogs bark, and human beings develop moral systems. There's no need for so much worry or hand wringing. The only reason this is an issue for you at all, is because Mormonism claims that it alone is the exclusive arbiter of good and bad, and that salvation can only come by submitting to its authority. If you were to make the adult decision to go try another religion, then the believers in your life would completely lose their minds and likely make your life a living hell, therefore you feel the need to find justification to stay. I get it, but the fact that you have to jump through so many hoops just to get yourself through the front door should be a warning sign that not all is well.
I agree

okay75
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 09, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Fatih and Reason. Finding Objective morality in a meaningless universe.

Post by okay75 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:43 pm

EternityIsNow wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:13 am
Interesting discussion. Here is a comment about the evolutionary need for a religion. I don't believe it is religion per se that coevolved with humans. If you consider how early hominids differentiated from their ancestor primates, a primary difference was the development of frontal lobes. This allowed early humans to do many things, particularly to think, plan, communicate, and eventually to imagine. I believe the creativity, the imagination, over time became essential for survival. Early humans were able to imagine stories, mythologies, with or without a religious type of belief system. And the stories were essential in transmitting knowledge. Transmitting between generations or just between different tribal groups. Imagine if you are a migratory early hominid, you would need to transmit information about the migratory route, the time of year to move, how to hunt or forage in different biomes, things like that. Over time, civilization emerged and the idea of a common moral or ethical code emerged. And these moral rules had survival advantage, and needed to be transmitted, so social morality would become interwoven with this imaginative capacity of the human brain through systems of story, ritual, and art. But I don't believe there is any evolutionary requirement that those systems be religious. They simply need to be stories capable of transmitting the needed information, or improving the emotional stability of the group or tribe members. That can be religion, but does not need to be. In the modern era, I believe you could say media, hobby groups, all sorts of literature and art forms, and of course scientific knowledge, perform a similar function to religion. They are mechanisms of using our imagination to transmit moral and social ethical knowledge, and they can create stability within the greater tribe of society.

There is a free online course at EdX that covers this type of information, it is called The Science of Religion. Maybe something you would find interesting.
I am totally doing that class now, sounds interesting. Thanks!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest