Why do people believe in God? Evidence  OCT 21 2005

Why do people believe in God? Evidence suggests that it's partially inherited. "The degree of religiosity was not strongly related to the environment in which the twin was brought up. Even if one identical twin had been brought up in an atheist family and the other in a religious Catholic household, they would still tend to show the same kind of religious feelings, or lack of them."

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There are 45 reader comments

Matt35 21 2005 2:35PM

Inherited suggests genetics, perhaps we could put that in some quotations (e.g. Evidence suggests that it's partially "inherited").

Also, everyone knows religiosity comes from eating ice cream, duh.

bret59 21 2005 2:59PM


people believe in god to come to terms with their insignificance.

carl sagan said it best...

'we long to be here for a purpose, but despite much self-deception, none is evident. the meaningless absurdity of life is the only incontestable knowledge known to man.'

TokenMormon01 21 2005 3:01PM

There are many reasons for belief in God -- some are good, some not so much.

Any attempt to find the *one* reason that all believers believe is [insert adjective here]

Matt Haughey01 21 2005 3:01PM

It's simple: everyone eats spagetti as a child. Do I have to draw you a map?

Spiteful Babs02 21 2005 3:02PM

I've known plenty of people who are "intrinsic"-ly religious, at
least, they don't care who sees them at their religious services,
they don't care much for society, etc., and still have a high
mental illness, anxiety, depression, etc. quotient - exactly
opposite of what the researchers found. And this would, in fact,
seem to be more in line with the author's list of people who do
seemingly-crazy things for their religious beliefs.
This whole article confuses me.

Carl Sagan36 21 2005 3:36PM

God is dead. No wait, I meant me.

Wah46 21 2005 3:46PM

Some people are better at math. Some at sports. Some at religion (i.e. enducing positive emotional responses to self-induced cognition patterns).

Wah47 21 2005 3:47PM

And some are better at speeling..

Nels50 21 2005 3:50PM

I believe in God because He has made Himself known to me.

Josh52 21 2005 3:52PM

I look forward to reading this book -- but in advance, I'll say that it sounds like there's some bad logic involved. Sure, some people may have a genetic propensity towards something that expresses itself as belief in a God. But that genetic propensity doesn't in any fully developed way answer the question, "Why do people believe in God?" It's a little like saying that Shakespeare wrote _Hamlet_ because he had ink, paper, and a quill. It's in some sense true, but it leaves out all the interesting parts.

I was just today reading Stanley Cavell on Emerson, and as he (Cavell) puts it, interpreting Emerson: "[W]hat is wrong with empiricism is not its reliance on experience, but its paltry idea of experience." I just don't think that a genetic explanation can satisfactorily answer a question like "Why do we believe in God?" And of course the utilitarian explanations of religious belief, like so much else in evolutionary psychology, presuppose that there is a 'why,' a reason behind every facet of human experience--when in fact we might just have organized religions because we are intelligent creatures with complicated brains. That's how it seems to me, anyway.

Edward J. S. Atkinson17 21 2005 4:17PM

The parochial study seems to be the hallmark of science.

Richard20 21 2005 4:20PM

Ah! Identical twins separated at birth used to prove that certain traits are inherited and not based on upbringing. The discredited ghost of Sir Cyril Burt lives on!

Please read Stephen Jay Gould's wonderful book, The Mismeasure of Man to find out just how dodgy such psychological studies (and others) can be.

stevyb18 21 2005 5:18PM

I beleive we have an innate spiritual need...some people fill that need with religion.

Sparticus25 21 2005 5:25PM

Apparently, the story goes, my great(x something or other) grandfather was a minister of some sort and prayed that if nothing else his descendants would believe in God. Did the study take that sort of thing into account? I'd like to hope so.

TokenMormon28 21 2005 5:28PM

The important thing is that we come up with a definition of 'religion' that makes it appear foolish and irrational on its face. That way, all religious people are, by definition, foolish and irrational, and nonreligious people can always feel superior.

Darrel10 21 2005 6:10PM

faith is one thing. religion is merely a club.

Nels30 21 2005 6:30PM

Hear hear, Darrel.

Kaleberg11 21 2005 7:11PM

I remember reading a fascinating article in Science in which one scientist argued that humans developed speech because an enlarge neocortex allowed them to develop relationships with more people than they could groom in a reasonable period of time. The larger human brain created a bottleneck in developing human society, so speech was developed to make interactions more efficient and less time consuming.

It is quite likely that our religious feeling is also an artifact of our expanded neocortex. In fact, the sense of a higher power watching over one fits in with this theory very nicely, as does our human tendency to anthropomorphize things and animals. I know that there has been some research involving brain scans of people having religious experiences, it might be that certain structures or properties of the neocortex are inherited, and that they make some people more inclined and capable of having religious experiences.

Think of God as a brain mutation.

TokenMormon36 21 2005 7:36PM

Outstanding example of exactly what I was proposing, Darrel!

I bet you're starting to feel superior already.

wah43 21 200510:43PM

That way, all religious people are, by definition, foolish and irrational, and nonreligious people can always feel superior.

Yea, but you folks get to go to heaven. Or perhaps even a Celestial Kingdon if you're nice enough (and always pay your tithing).

/btw, the comments box here is whacked on IE.

TokenMormon49 21 200510:49PM

Mmmm. Celestial King Don. (I guess they call them Ding Dongs now, but back in the day . . .)

And the temporal benefits of faith ain't half bad, either. Besides, the tithing is tax deductible. Woohoo!

mark45 21 200511:45PM

Almost all civilizations have had religion and/or spirituality as an important aspect of their culture. It is an inherently human trait to believe in a power greater than ourselves, be it a sun god, the great bear, Jesus or Allah. For me it asks the question, what is the biological niche that a belief in god fills. If you look at it from a survival of the fittest perspective you could make an assumption that spirituality in humans is a favorable biological trait, as most humans tend to be spiritual.

Maybe the evolution of the larger brains in humans, creating a more emotional and physiological animal, lends itself to a tendency towards a belief in a higher power, and this belief aids in calming the highly emotional and intellectual thoughts of the human being.

I imagine early man with very little understanding of the world around them, inundated with fear and confusion from a grand and threatening world, where a belief in a God that would both protect them and explain the frightening unknowns of the universe could be physiologically and emotionally beneficial. It could also be proposed that the more emotionally and physiologically stable a human being is, the better they will succeed in their environment.

Spirituality and religion are a facet of the human experience. Its seems reasonable that these traits have evolved to become an aspect of basic human behavior and biology. Yet, as always, we can't ignore nurture for only nature. We live in a much more secular society today then our ancestors. Humans have an inclination towards spiritual beliefs, but we also cannot overlook the effect that our environment has upon us.

mark01 22 200512:01AM

Welcome be a religion that pours into the bitter chalice of the suffering human species some sweet, soporific drops of spiritual opium, some drops of love, hope and faith. - Heinrich Heine.

barlow26 22 2005 9:26AM

Religious fervency seems like it would naturally be inheritable - it is like any other emotional tendency. But that's a different matter than belief. It's a bit like doing a twin study on whether the separated twins *really* love their wives or *really* believe in love. I'm one of those believers in God - the Christian one - who feels very little sentiment in the matter. There are occasions when I do, but most of the time, it is just something I want to believe, and can't imagine not believing, and so I move forward - just like I do with any number of things - gravity, induction, etc. Also, the heading of this blog post really doesn't match the content of the twin questionnaire, unless Jason has more insight into the study beyond the few paragraphs at the end of the article describing the twin study. The issue seems to be presented as religious feeling, not bare assent to the existence of God. I'm sure astrophysicist twins separated at birth will evidence the same degree and kinds of awe toward the cosmos.

bluejey58 22 200510:58PM

believe or not, there's no doubt it matters to us - if you dispute this, contemplate your own death (with intimate realism) and say none of this matters to you.

What's to inherit? the topic by its nature is eternally real - we each wake up alive and wonder how all this can be

where is our gratitude for the gift of life? we are each a unique point of presence, irespective of thoughts or anything we believe - none of us could possibly have brought this unique self into being

surely this unique life of ours comes from causes worthy of the term sacred?

The Tensor10 23 2005 1:10AM

I detect suspiciously normative language. Try this on for size:

"Why are people atheists? Evidence suggests that it's partially inherited. 'The degree of religiosity was not strongly related to the environment in which the twin was brought up. Even if one identical twin had been brought up in a religious Catholic household and the other in an atheist family, they would still tend to show the same kind of religious feelings, or lack of them.'"

(Same facts, but with a different bias encoded in the way it's phrased.)

stevyb21 23 200510:21AM

Think about all the things you beleive in, but can't prove (see or feel). That's faith...

Wah52 24 200510:52AM

we each wake up alive and wonder how all this can be

Then we read about what what our species has figured out and we have a pretty good idea.

where is our gratitude for the gift of life?

Everpresent for many. Sometimes overshadowed by the sadness at seeing folks who professs a profound believe advocate killing on a mass scale.

we are each a unique point of presence, irespective of thoughts or anything we believe - none of us could possibly have brought this unique self into being

That's a contradiction. Any knowledge of the world outside your own experience is model created by your brain. And most times it's a pretty crappy model. Unique is a fairly relative term, as far as human experience goes.

surely this unique life of ours comes from causes worthy of the term sacred?

And wholly so without the need to resort to worshipping supernatural fantasies.

TokenMormon31 24 200511:31AM

Wah: What, exactly, has our species figured out about what happens after death? I'd be very interested to known. You're apparently reading different books than I am.

"worshipping supernatural fantasies" is such a jerky thing to say. Why would you a) pass judgment like that on the beliefs of someone you don't even know (and whose beliefs you don't know); and b) be so presumptuous as to think you know what's a fantasy and what's not?

Darrel49 24 200511:49AM

be so presumptuous as to think you know what's a fantasy and what's not?

Religious doctrine containes a lot of fantasy. That's not bad, just what it is.

TokenMormon07 24 200512:07PM

Saying religious doctrine contains a lot fantasy is like saying food contains a lot of twinkies. Sure, it's true.

I didn't say it's presumptuous to think religion, in general, contains fantasy. I said it's presumptuous to think you know what's fantasy and what's not. I have many religious beliefs that lots of people think are fantasy. But I'm at least as smart as any of them, and I guarantee I've put a lot more thought, analysis and skepticism into my beliefs than they have, so I'd say I'm more qualified than they are to say whether my beliefs are fantasy or not. But I don't pretend that all my religious beliefs (or my scientific beliefs, for that matter) can be proved empirically. Some of them can, of course, but not all. That doesn't make them fantasies, though.

Darrel22 24 2005 1:22PM

Saying religious doctrine contains a lot fantasy is like saying food contains a lot of twinkies.

In that twinkies are a subset of food and that fantasy is a subset of a lot of religions, sure.

I said it's presumptuous to think you know what's fantasy and what's not.

Seems more common sense than presumptuous to me. Now, what was once fantasy, can become reality as we gain more knowledge on the subject.

I have many religious beliefs that lots of people think are fantasy. But I'm at least as smart as any of them

You seem to be equating a belief in fantasy as a correlation to one's intelligence. There isn't a correlation there. How one ACTS upon that may be more telling of intelligence, but the simple act of embracing fantasy doesn't mean a person is stupid (or smart for that matter).

so I'd say I'm more qualified than they are to say whether my beliefs are fantasy or not

Uh, beliefs that are not founded in something tangible are pretty much fantasy. That's all. You seem to be taking the term 'fantasy' as an insult worthy of defending.

Some of them can, of course, but not all. That doesn't make them fantasies, though.

Uh, actually, it does. But maybe you're using a different definition that I am.

TokenMormon43 24 2005 1:43PM

Definitional differences are a big problem in most discussions. I try to stick with the widely accepted definitions, so as to avoid such problems.

As far as "fantasy" goes, I was using the widely accepted definition:

"a creation of the imaginative faculty whether expressed or merely conceived"

Let me restate: the fact that something cannot be empirically proved does not mean it's a creation of the imaginative faculty.

I cannot empirically prove that my brother was happy when I gave him a christmas present 10 years ago, but that doesn't mean my memory of his happiness is a fantasy.

That said, the vast majority of my own religious beliefs are based on perception, observation and thorough analysis, as well as repeatable, falsifiable proofs. As for those that are not, they are not based on imagination - mine or anyone else's.

Ultimately, I think we completely agree, actually.

Darrel11 24 2005 2:11PM

Let me restate: the fact that something cannot be empirically proved does not mean it's a creation of the imaginative faculty.

Uh, it is. If it's not observable, then we, as humans, made it up. It might be true, may not be, but until it's founded in something tangible, it's just a part of our imagination.

I cannot empirically prove that my brother was happy when I gave him a christmas present 10 years ago, but that doesn't mean my memory of his happiness is a fantasy.

Did he appear happy or sad? Seems easy enough to prove.

the vast majority of my own religious beliefs are based on perception, observation and thorough analysis, as well as repeatable, falsifiable proofs.

Such as?

As for those that are not, they are not based on imagination - mine or anyone else's.

Then what are they based on?

Ultimately, I think we completely agree, actually.

Probably. ;o)

Wah04 24 2005 4:04PM

Wah: What, exactly, has our species figured out about what happens after death?

What happens to what? Your body decomposes. Your mind is gone. Your actions continue to reverberate. Any other aspects you are confused/curious about?

Why would you a) pass judgment like that on the beliefs of someone you don't even know (and whose beliefs you don't know);

Obviously. And being an ordained Elder kinda give me a bit of insight into what your particular beliefs regarding this subject may be.

b) be so presumptuous as to think you know what's a fantasy and what's not?

So someone coming back to life after being killed is not fantastic? It's not a fantasy? Okey dokey, show me some evidence of this being true or even possible.

But I'm at least as smart as any of them, and I guarantee I've put a lot more thought, analysis and skepticism into my beliefs than they have, so I'd say I'm more qualified than they are to say whether my beliefs are fantasy or not.

Well, if your nick is not a lie, you need to do more research. And to assume that you've done more than anyone is presumptuous to the Nth degree. How many times have you torn apart your life looking? I'm up to three, but then again, I make a habit of it.

Again, this isn't to say that fantasy can't be useful. It's quite useful. But that doesn't make it not fantasy.

As mentioned..."inducing positive emotional responses to self-induced cognition patterns"...is a useful strategy for dealing with some of the more sticky parts of mortality, up to and most certainly including contemplating one's own death or that of a loved one.

Saying religious doctrine contains a lot fantasy is like saying food contains a lot of twinkies. Sure, it's true.

I'd say this would be a more accurate analogy if you replace 'twinkies' with 'calories'.

But then again, like food, it varies from doctrine to doctrine.

I cannot empirically prove that my brother was happy when I gave him a christmas present 10 years ago, but that doesn't mean my memory of his happiness is a fantasy.

Umm, you were there. You saw it and were an integral part of the experience. Most would take your word. And given no testimony to the contrary from another primary mover in said experience, your word would be enough to prove such a simple thing to the vast majority of people.

That being said, nueurologically speaking, we're not so far away from the point where I could show your brother a picture of him being given a present and measure a degree of happiness in his emotional response to the stimulus.

The same could be said of actual fantasies you (or others) may subscribe to.

TokenMormon43 24 2005 5:43PM

Your body decomposes. Your mind is gone. Your actions continue to reverberate. Any other aspects you are confused/curious about?

Yes, lots. Aren't you?

And being an ordained Elder kinda give me a bit of insight into what your particular beliefs regarding this subject may be.

Just a bit, probably, but not much more than that, I suspect. If you're an ordained Elder, how is it you can't think of anything post-death to be interested in other than decomposition and personal legacy? It doesn't take a Mormon (or even a religious person) to wonder about whether there's an afterlife.

But then again, like food, it varies from doctrine to doctrine.

Yep. But see the definition of 'fantasy' above.

So someone coming back to life after being killed is not fantastic? It's not a fantasy? Okey dokey, show me some evidence of this being true or even possible.

On this one, I'm going to go ahead and quote you as part of my answer: "You saw it and were an integral part of the experience. Most would take your word. And given no testimony to the contrary from another primary mover in said experience, your word would be enough to prove such a simple thing to the vast majority of people."

Here's the evidence, by your own standard: There's at least one person who, in the relatively recent past, saw it and wrote and testified about it, and was an integral part of the experience. Many have taken his word, though there have certainly been lots of skeptics. Given no testimony to the contrary from another primary mover in said experience, however, his word is evidence. Conclusive evidence? Of course not. Evidence? Absoultely.

And yes, I'm quite presumptuous, but I'm also right. How many times have I torn my life apart looking? I try not to tear my life apart unless absolutely necessary, though I'm not entirely sure what you mean by that. I've spent my entire life (or the part I can remember, anyway) looking, re-looking, scrutinizing and questioning. I haven't burned any bridges, if that's what you mean.

People within my religion often have widely divergent views as to what the 'core' beliefs of the church are. If you had to tear your life apart in order to look for the truth, I suspect that either your views or those of people very close to you are very, very different than mine where the church is concerned. In my opinion, the whole thing boils down to whether or not you believe that one eyewitness. Everything else is built on top of that, and often not built very well, frankly.

(and if I screwed up the HTML, I apologize - I'm such a noob)


TokenMormon48 24 2005 6:48PM

And by the way, your link for me to "do more research" leads to a bunch of websites that, by and large, start from incorrect statements of what the Book of Mormon says (and other false starting assumptions).

Whenever some article or scholar starts on the whole "there's no DNA evidence that Native Americans are descended from the Middle East" it is plainly obvious that they haven't actually read the Book of Mormon, since it does not claim that modern Native Americans are descended from any of the people the Book is about.

I've done a ton of research, but it's always good to do more. Thanks!

Wah48 25 2005 6:48PM

Any other aspects you are confused/curious about?

Yes, lots. Aren't you?


Not particularly. That third one is a rather significant catch-all, IMHO.

If you're an ordained Elder, how is it you can't think of anything post-death to be interested in other than decomposition and personal legacy? Well, for one that was the last rank I attained, and two, 'personal legacy' is not nearly as broad as "Your actions continue to reverberate." So I don't think we are quite on the same page as far as terms go.

"a creation of the imaginative faculty whether expressed or merely conceived"

Yes, precisely. And many are manufactured by others, doan'cha'know...

Conclusive evidence? Of course not. Evidence? Absoultely.

Extremely weak evidence. For one, the two situations are not the least bit analogous. On the one hand, I've given presents to siblings before. I can believe that it is empirically true that your brother was happy based on your saying so.

"I cannot empirically prove that my brother was happy when I gave him a christmas present 10 years ago, but that doesn't mean my memory of his happiness is a fantasy. "

However, having never seen someone come back to life, and in fact believe that it is impossible under any natural (as opposed to supernatural) circumstances to do so, I would have to conclude that someones testimony of this happening is a fantasy, that is..."a creation of the imaginative faculty whether expressed or merely conceived."

In this case, expressed. Expressed, and expressed, and expressed. Repeated until it's veracity is completely a matter of faith and not evidence.

"People within my religion often have widely divergent views as to what the 'core' beliefs of the church are. "

That's why there's articles of faith, eh? (article 4, first principle to be precise. Faith in a fantasy).

If you had to tear your life apart in order to look for the truth, I suspect that either your views or those of people very close to you are very, very different than mine where the church is concerned.

Nah, I'm just a philosopher and a wanderer. It comes natural to us folk.

Whenever some article or scholar starts on the whole "there's no DNA evidence that Native Americans are descended from the Middle East" it is plainly obvious that they haven't actually read the Book of Mormon, since it does not claim that modern Native Americans are descended from any of the people the Book is about.

Huh?! Dude, seriously, when I visited my family this summer in Utah we went to see this movie.

And you might want to check out this too.

Do the tests anywhere on the two continents then. North and South America. Find the genes. It's been done before.

So the question is still out there, as all groups and every inch of ground hasn't been covered yet.

However, the current lack of data certainly leans more toward fantasy that it does to reality.

Now, all of this isn't to say that it isn't a worthwhile faith for those that desire such things. I love my family and think they wonderful people. Many of the people I know, and knew in the church were very kind, productive members of society.

Not, generally, the most interesting of folk, but there ya go.

Religion serves a purpose. A beliefe in God and particular set of rituals used to worhsip him/her/it have generally positive physiolical effects. Being able to deal with the stress of unresolved/unresolvable questions is one of those benefits.

But that doesn't mean much of it is useful fantasy.

/sorry for typos, etc. as mentioned, this comment box is kinda whack and there's no preview (kottke, steal matthowies's comment box! stat!)
//ramen

wah51 25 2005 6:51PM

errr, isn't useful fantasy (the negatives kinda got away from me there).

TokenMormon14 25 2005 8:14PM

lol. You cited a movie. Sweet.

wah27 26 200510:27AM

Umm, who cited a movie?

This film is shown ... in the North Visitors' Center on Temple Square.

With missionaries on hand to explain it and everything. It seems some people might be confused about the white Jesus.

I think I'm done here. Have a good one.

TokenMormon31 26 2005 2:31PM

Hopefully the missionaries explain that the film is not a reflection of doctrine or of the book upon which it is very loosely based.

According to the maker of the film, the actor who plays Jesus was picked based on the following criteria: Member of the church in good standing who had never portrayed a character that would "compromise" the Christ portrayal (in other words, Gary Oldman's portrayals of Dracula and Sid Vicious would have disqualified him, even if he were Mormon). Oh, and they hoped the prospective actor could actually act. It just so happened that the one guy they found who fit that description and wasn't too old or too fat or something like that happened to be from Denmark (or was it some other cold northern country). They were more concerned with the ethical/religious qualifications of the actor than the physical characteristics. That said, I'm sure they wouldn't have cast a 350 pound asian woman, even if she had all the other qualifications.

Seriously, if you base doctrinal critique of a religion on a crappy film, your "soul searching" has probably not gone deep enough. Mormon movies - both those made by the church and those made by others about Mormons - make me throw up a little, but my belief and faith are rooted in things quite a bit deeper than movies. (for the most part -- I mean, Kill Bill is really great, and I do base a lot of my faith on it)

Mahdi bin doud (Matthew) Thistle39 26 2005 4:39PM

there was only one comment as far as I could tell that addressed the Reality of

God Reveals Himself to whom He Wills

and I , also know Him because He Revealed Himself in a way that is utterly beyond comprehension, or my ability
to express it,

so that makes one a mystic of sorts,

to deny other people's own personal experience is, in truth, an excercise in opinion only, of

'the ego', 'the self'


an impossibility!


that which seperates one from the Union of unions

and the secret thus remains! between the knower & the Giver of the knowing

God(Exalted Be HE!) Being Ominipotent, controls the perception of every single person who
contributed to this comment list


whether you know it or not,

since most, deny Him, this is one of the self recursive Punishments, but most have no idea of even that

a life without Him, A Godless Universe is your reward, desire indeed, only becomes the 'raison de etre'

and who is worse than he that worships at the alter of his own desire?

suffering is it's only end, in the end


'secularism' is also a most unbfortunate destructive, conditioning & most here, exhibit conditional psychological secular states idiomatically & intrinsically linked to religious condition

it's a psychological state only

step beyond....

to preconceive that you know the entire totality of all perception beyond the the edge of your
own, invisible self mirrored perceptual bubble, is an arrogance the wordly perceptualist displays on his tongue before GOD & Before All who listen

such as Dawkins etc

so indeed the sufis say

"he who tastes knows,
he who tastes not knows not,
so let us close the shop of argument,
and open the teahouse of experience"

if have you haven't tasted yet, doesn't mean you KNOW

it just means you don't know, YET

and if you don't know you don't know,

you are lost in the void of the self, though you know it not! and indeed

the ego would hardly admit it either.....

and that's why Dawkins is afraid to debate with a believer & will not, with feeble excuses that hide his own
lack of conviction in his own opinion, it would be indeed a futile excercize for him

lets have a good look at his personal life & how he conducts himself for an answer



which makes any allusion to 'atheism' also futile excercize in mere agnosticism at best,

the conviction in non-experience is non-existant in comparison,

to the actual conviction to the one who has tasted & witnessed what is rationally impossible for

so called 'atheist'!

but yet is True, anyone Who has tasted, knows this simple truth

so it's an open secret, a fact...try as you might to disprove you'll find much frustration

for how do you disprove your very self?

another preconception of the rationalist! ie where does God come from?

is laughable in it's ignorance, the question is meaningless, what's south of the south pole?

what's beyond the corner of a sphere?

perhaps a scientific assault from asking questions like:

why does the naturally occuring nuerotransmitter, DMT has the effect it does on people?

ie
www.rickstrassman.com

one of the many X-factors that exist in all of us

I defy anyone anyone on this planet to taste that & walk away
without questioning his own limited perception

but the trick is if you never ever go there, you never ever know....
and

we're back to

"he who tastes knows...."


so Good luck on your escape of the self in pursuit of Love.....

because this is all about

Love,

is it not?

wah53 27 200510:53AM

Yea, damn that secularism.

Unfortunatley, The login page for Blogger, has been banned again, for whatever reason, oh yeah I forgot, for free speech outside their control, so I cannot access & post as per usual, I'm only posting through the unamed photo service, like so

Interesting post, BTW. The problem however, is that the experience you speak of is defined in words and cutltural norms. The arrogance of such things leads to conflict as the expression of the experience takes different forms and words depending on the lattitude and longitude of the one who experiences it. As the customs and rituals that lead to such experience become refined and formalized, the natural result is formalized religion. When taken to the political realm, this formalization leads to the problems you've experienced in the heart of one such political realm (and a great many more that you haven't posted about in recent weeks).

One other problem comes directly from those types of experiences, as such strong emotional experiences can easily override reason and in fact lead to actions that are, in fact, anathema to life and love.

BTW, Matt, I'd reccoment this book (and his others) for a deeper look at some of the sources for the emotions you are putting so much faith in.

Token, I'm not terribly interested in going into the backgrounds of actors. At least Caviezel kinda looks middle-eastern...

And the critique is not based on watching a movie. Pretty much all Mormon artwork includes the White Jesus. The simple fact is that the claims that the BoM is an actual historical record are huge, and the evidence for such claims is lacking. Hence the conclusion that the vast majority of it is fantasy. And even conceding that it is inspired fantasy does little to change that conclusion.

This will, eventually, lead to a schism in the church between the pragmatists and the apologists. Don't worry , it's happened before to pretty much every Christian faith (and all the others, for that matter).

TokenMormon27 27 2005 1:27PM

Catholicism is obviously a better religion than Mormonism, since Jim Caveziel looks sort of middle eastern, whereas most Mormon art depicts a less middle eastern looking Jesus. Lol.

What I find really fascinating about attempts to prove or discredit the Book of Mormon through archaeological or other pursuits is the utter lack of any evidence contradicting the book. The only valid reason I can think of for trying to find archeological proof of the Book of Mormon is if the researcher in question already believes the book is likely to be what it claims to be and has a reasonable expectation that the book will lead to a greater understanding of something.

In my opinion, spending any time trying to scientifically prove a matter of faith misses the point, and spending any time trying to scientifically disprove someone's religious beliefs is just wankery.

But saying that a purported lack of archaeological evidence proving the book to be true is itself evidence that that the book is not true is quite misguided. The book is not specific enough about population numbers or geographic locations to provide the basis for any proof or disproof, anyway. The only way to prove or disprove the veracity of the book is by a direct appeal to God -- an experiment, if you will. Depending on a number of factors, your results may vary.

Just remember: The answers you find in life depend in large part upon the assumptions and premises you start with when you ask the questions. If you assume God doesn't exist, even though that assumption is unsupported by any evidence, you're not likely to ever find God. If you start with the assumption that God does exist, without having any evidence, you're likely to convince yourself that you've found God when you really haven't. If you start out with no preconceived idea, but with a genuine desire to know, then you might just have a chance.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

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