What are morals? Where do we get our morals? I have been debated saying that morals come from the bible. I say what about before the bible? What about the bad decisions that were made in the bible?
Morals – of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical
I claim, like many others, that we have evolved our moral code from decisions that affect our life, the lives of our family, the lives and workings of our community, the animals around us, and the world itself. Right and wrong have evolved, they are not concrete standards. The link below shows a moral ring and shows how our decisions and standards have expanded to include more variables over time. Including the variables changing are the specifics to individual situations: is it right to kill a person? What if they killed a person? What if they killed many people?
Killing is wrong, but for the benefit of society that person who is murdering individuals needs to be stopped. That is moral decision and it can have different answers from different people. There is no code that has an answer for every situation that can occur. There are no absolutes, we make our own right and wrong.
“The lord’s truth is not altered by fads, trends, or public pinion.”
-David A Bednar, Apr. 2013 General Conference
Yeah ok, we just won’t talk about the “truths” of:
Well, lets we, I think I can come up with at least one, right?
Oh, I know:
Blacks in the priesthood
Black/Indians being cursed with their skin color
The cursed being able to become “white and delightsome”
The ancestry of the American Indians
“Hot drinks” …. Caffeine
The stance of the church on these truths has never changed. Oh wait yes it has. Th church has a great and well documented history of doing exactly the opposite of Mr. Bednar’s statement. All of the changes mentioned above and some of the “prophecies” made by the prophets came in the light of public opinion or pressure. (Check out my post, My Coming Out pt5, to see some failed prophecies)
A fairly good list of the practices and items that are banned and have set consequences in the Bible but modern believers look over.
I wasn’ t on YouTube looking for these videos but they came to me, perhaps by divine intervention? (no I don’t think so) I am in a debate with a fellow on FaceBook about Dawkins, religion, and evolution and he claimed Dawkins believed aliens seeded the human race. I was looking for a clip of Dawkins which someone claimed existed where he admits that he believes that an advanced alien race seeded the humans….it does and it doesn’t exist. He says he can entertain the idea of that happening but that race too was developed by Darwinian natural selection to the way they were. He maintains that no “creator” had a hand in it all.
Ive never put a bunch of thought into the different names for the god (godS) of the Bible. Its pretty strong evidence of the evolution of the polytheistic Old Testament fusing the gods into one being for the New Testament. Sorry, I’m really not doing them justice but theyre worth the watch.
My draft of the post I am going to make to Facebook to come out to my family and friends. Any help would be appreciated.
This going to be a long post for you guys and some people are not going to take it very well.
If a video surfaced that clearly showed a Sasquatch/BigFoot (not pixelated, not miles away, a clear image of it walking around) we would use that as evidence for the claim of their existence. If however evidence comes up that the person who brought the video public had only days before bought a brand new camera and a very nice costume we would instantly and rightly question the video evidence. Changing your belief in the existence of that Bigfoot would not look badly on you and you should not be embarrassed about believing it when that was the only evidence that was available. You should however be embarrassed if after counter evidence is submitted you still hold to that first belief.
Believe the evidence and change your view when evidence requires and do not be embarrassed by that. This changing of views is the way of science and should be the way of the world. It is how we got to our modern world. We thought the world was flat until Magellan’s crew made it around the world one way (too bad Magellan died on the way). We thought the body was balanced in the humors until evidence came for the complexity of our systems working together. We believed in Santa until we found out our parents bought, wrapped, and placed the presents.
I have changed my views on the world in light of evidence (and more so the lack of evidence) I have been shown. I am not embarrassed, I have not made a big deal about it because it has not changed who I am. I make this post now because I do not want rumors and misinformation spreading. I am willing to debate my point to anyone, though I must insist it be in writing, as I can get all of my ideas out in writing and can get tongue tied or forget what I want to say when in person.
I find it quite coincidental that the very week I choose to “come-out” as it were, is the very same week of General Conference in which this talk occurred. Amazingly the basis of this talk is one of the main counter points I used to come to my decision. You may have seen this already or when you watch it you may get a completely different point than I have. My view is to look before you leap as blind faith can be devastating.
THE ARTICLES OF REASON
OF THE FREE-THINKERS OF THE WORLD
1 We believe not in God, the Eternal Father, nor in his Son, Jesus Christ, nor in the Holy Ghost, nor in Odin, the All-Father, nor in Ganesha, the Lord of Obstacles, and so forth.
2 We believe science is the best method for explaining reality, as far as it is practiced correctly.
3 We believe not in sin, nor in the punishments for such.
4 We believe that the principles and ordinances of the Scientific Method are: first, Formulation of a question; second, formation of a Hypothesis; third, Experimentation by systematic manipulation of variables; forth, Analysis of the data; fifth, Submission for review by a group of our peers.
5 We believe skepticism is the best default position. We assume the null hypothesis until proper evidence indicates otherwise; indeed we may say that we apply Occam’s razor to all phenomena.
6 We believe morals are derived, revised, and refined by our ability to reason. The Golden Rule is the basis for our ethics as far as it is formulated correctly.
7 We believe that today’s churches are based on the ignorance of the Primitive Churches, namely, their beliefs in the scientifically inaccurate, the scientifically improbable, the scientifically impossible, and so forth.
8 We believe not in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, nor in the interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
9 We believe the Bible to be the word of Man, not of a god; including the Qur’an, Torah, Book of Mormon, Bhagavad-Gita, and so forth.
10 We believe that the burden of proof rests with those that make the claim.
11 We claim the privilege of investigating the Cosmos according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them explore how, where, or what they may.
12 We believe that our understanding of the Cosmos is subject to change contingent upon the proper presentation of sufficient evidence. We welcome all constructive criticism and encourage debate as well as free exchange of ideas.
13 We believe in being honest, inquisitive, virtuous, and respectful to the autonomy of all men and women; indeed we may say that we follow the science of Darwin-We believe all things science can show evidence for, we have endured many things as an evolving species, and hope to be able to endure all things by adaptation. If there is anything virtuous, evidential, praiseworthy, and of good report, we seek after these things.
Ok, it’s long but stick with it, it’s very good.
OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO
Salutations! I’m writing to say,
I’m off to great places! I’m off and away!
My mind is wide open, I’m ready to choose,
I can see for myself, I can see through the ruse,
I’m off and away, and I choose where I go.
I’m in charge of myself, to flourish and grow.
I’d rather be open, to wonder and doubt,
than closed by belief, day in and day out.
I’ll read what I want, I’ll drink what I dare,
You’ll still judge my choice, although I don’t care.
With a free-thinking mind and my eyes open wide,
I’ll guide my own life, spare me your scorn and chide.
I’m off! Truth here I come! To Boyd I’ll pay no mind,
for all truth is useful, even the non-Mormon kind!
Empirical fact, to truth is the key,
John 8 fills my mind: “The truth sets you free”
It’s my goal in life, my aim, my apogee.
From now on, only the truth will lead me.
History has a way you see, of coming back around.
Even when its white washed, or put deep underground.
After searching the web, I see my life’s been spent,
in service of a church, whose honesty is bent.
Most folks don’t like being duped, just you wait and see.
They’ll see your skewed truth as blatant dishonesty.
I’m sure you’ll quip: “He’s nuts! He’s lost to apostasy!”
Clever lies and half-truths won’t keep all of us in,
and droves will leave when with Google they begin.
Steel in the new world? Horses and chariots? Nope.
I say dear brethren, adieu! These stories have no hope.
Surely native ancestry, will exonerate Joe’s claim?
From Asian lines not Jew, are whence the red man came.
Science gives apologists a real sense of dread,
their answers make scholars scratch their head.
The versions of the first vision are quite a few.
Same with history and doctrines; what’s really true?
It’s so confusing—one day it’s this, the next it’s that.
What was it again, special stones or a magic top hat?
“No! It was no such thing!” “Peep stones and a top hat?”
“That’s not faith promoting!” “Who would swallow that gnat?!”
This is a choice you’re sure to regret…
but serving up camel is not the safer bet!
“How noble and pure Joseph was, just look!”
“Young boy, to stave the pain you must imbibe.”
“No sir! I’d rather endure pain by my dad’s side.”
What’s this? Smith had a bar? Wine in Carthage jail?
Give that answer in Sunday school and you fail.
Joe had many wives, but leaders from this always shy.
Past nor present, our leaders won’t openly confide.
Why veil god’s command? Must have something to hide.
“Surely we can explain! It’s not as it seems!”
Spare me! Real men don’t marry girls of fourteen!
“Ol’ Brigham, he’s prone to false doctrine and blasphemies.”
“Blood atonement and Adam God are just theories.”
Silly me, I thought he was the prophet, wasn’t he?
We won’t talk about the Meadows or John Lee
but was there a slip, a lapse, with the prophetic keys?
I’m beginning to think there were no keys to begin with…
With sourced truth all around, what are we to conclude?
Is all of Mormon history, deliberately skewed?
The answer I might’ve found, had the latter-day prophets sought,
at least to be forthright, but forthright they are not.
Years past, faithful stalwarts had to dig and comb,
to see the history and roots from whence they’d come.
Rules were quickly set, making examples of some.
Like my friend Paul T, a scholar among six:
“Opine church history, will you? Have him nixed!”
To doubt was apostate. To question was heresy.
Sharing ideas with friends, was considered mutiny.
For days I could write the absurdities of Bruce R.
“The time for black priesthood is still quite far.”
“As a man only was how he gave the speech.”
Isn’t the pulpit where the prophets reveal and teach?
Not to worry, Spencer flipped ol’ Bruce on his head,
and saved our blessed “Y” having its accreditation shed.
Seems to me most convenient,
while at times change avoidant,
a prophet and god can sway,
and bow to what the masses say.
Ten percent’s a steep demand,
and even the poor must sacrifice.
Shouldn’t we all pay worship,
without money and without price?
“What to do with this tithe?” A mall you say? Am I awake?
How much for such a mall? “Just a few BILLION give or take.”
For one, shouldn’t we leave the ninety and nine?
“Trouble with doctrine? Get out! Or fall in line!”
“Poor boy, you’ve used the atonement to get out of a bind?”
“Stay home, we’ve raised the bar! We don’t need your kind!”
“Interested in the same sex? We don’t buy your bluff, your knuckles aren’t yet broken or bloody enough.”
Homosexuality, hmm, anomaly or fate?
Thanks, but I’ll side with science, it leaves out the hate.
How many bright lives are lost because of this…
whose end comes undue, too soon, like Stuart Matis?
Oh the heartache and tears you could have spared,
if you’d just offered that their burden be shared.
Instead, we’re offered a love with conditions,
from leaders at pulpits with elevated positions.
If twenty years back, a saint like Carol Lynn,
she loving all, or voices like John Dehlin…
these forward thinkers, these lovers of all,
their fate would’ve been seen all over the wall;
Gone! Nixed with the six, slandered and estranged.
But not so, not now, what seems to have changed?
Let’s search and ponder, what is it I wonder?!
You’ll do just about anything, to avoid another PR blunder.
You’ve learned bad press has a way of putting your bottom line asunder.
“Focus groups, what will you say?”
“Surely our image is okay?”
“We should spend millions for their expert advice!”
Silly me, but why doesn’t inspiration suffice?
Seems just a little strange, that the prophets of god,
would fail to foresee, what Google would laud.
“By single lines we grow.”
“In time the lord will show.”
The cost of a pace so slow?
“Merely a few lost souls.”
“What ever should we do?” “We can’t teach truth pure!”
“Only milk for these sheep, never meat, that’s for sure!”
“Please be patient! Please give us more time,
we’re adjusting the history to make it benign.”
“It’ll be white and delightsome, every last senine!”
“Then with excuse anew, you best fall back in line!”
I’ll stay out of line, I can see through the guise.
I won’t allow the wool to cover my eyes.
To less active, apostates, you plead “Come back!
We’re open now; we’re willing to share the facts!”
Do you think we’re blind and we can’t clearly see
your feigned new resolve for open transparency?
Fool me once and I’m done, you’ve had your shot!
You’re only changing now because you were caught.
Like Dorothy I feel, she being told to pay no mind,
as the curtain parts to show a man standing behind.
After a journey so deep and so long, I need to say:
My trust is broke, this silly game I’ll no longer play.
What’s more, Gordon gave an escape to be had:
“All of its good, every last bit, or all of its bad.”
With this point alone, I have reason to leave.
I consider all the rest, and your store is cleaved.
With my mind opened up, and my past steered by lies,
off I go with the droves, with my path open wide!
Credit to Dr. Seuss, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”
and to RedBullet750
Tradition, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or social custom); a belief or story relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable. Traditional beliefs often start from almost nothing; perhaps somebody just makes them up originally to explain phenomena that they did not understand, like the stories about Thor and Zeus. But after they have been handed down over centuries, the mere fact that they are so old makes them seem special. People believe things simply because people have believed the same thing over centuries. The trouble with tradition is that, no matter how long ago a story was made up, it is still exactly as true or untrue as the original story was.
The largest tradition that we come in contact with, in our day-to-day lives, is religion. Most of the people in America are Christian. There are many branches of the “Christian” church: Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Latter-Day Saints etc. These are just a few of the hundreds of branches of just the Christian religions, there are also Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, etc. There is no way to have an exhaustive list. The differences in some of these are admittedly large while some are miniscule. People who believe even slightly different things from each other often go to war over their disagreements. So you might think that they must have some pretty good reasons, or evidence, for believing what they believe. But actually their different beliefs are entirely due to different traditions. It seems that if evidence comes to light that agrees with their views, it somehow reinforces their position, but when evidence comes up that disagrees with their views they no longer need evidence as much as “faith.”
Many people try to refute the argument against tradition by using language as a crux. Yes, language is passed down by tradition, there is no other way. Evolution states that an organism (like fish, lions, and us!) is built to survive in the environment where its kind lives. Some fish live in fresh water while others live in salt water; lions learn to track and hunt their prey; we learn the language of our people. In order to prosper and thrive in our environment we learn the language of the area. In America, the majority, speak English (in one form or another) and call Racer a cat, in Italy they speak Italian and would call her un gatto. Neither of these words is more right and as such neither the Italian nor the English consider theirs the more correct way, just two sides of the same coin.
Children are required to absorb a myriad of traditional information about the culture they grow up in. The child can’t be expected to sort out the useful information (like language) from the bad information (like gods, devils, and the like). Because children have to learn from adults they are likely to believe nearly everything that they are told; right or wrong, true or false, backed up by facts or unsubstantiated claims. I am not saying to not listen to your elders; they can pass on very valuable information, like I am trying to do with this letter.
Could this be what happened with religion? Belief that Thor caused the lightening, that Jesus had no human father, a select few prayers are answered, or that a group of Jews crossed the globe to populate America while destroying the genetic link to their supposed ancestors. Millions have believed these things; millions more still do, but why? Perhaps they were told that it was true by their elders when they were young and impressionable. Muslim children are told very different things from Christian children, yet both are convinced that they are following the correct path. The two languages are correct for their respective countries because they are not mutually exclusive, but because different religions claim different things happened to the same select group of people they can’t both be correct.
In closing, I want you to know how very much I love you. I have not written this to break bonds within our family; I only want to try to raise you above the influence of authority, revelation, and tradition. I know the topics in this letter are huge, possibly too large for you to comprehend yet. I am ready to answer any questions you have. I may not have every answer and perhaps you should not simply listen to me (authority and tradition, you know), but I will help you find the answers with an open mind and heart. I hope this letter finds you well, I hope you are able to understand and absorb what is contained in it, and lastly I hope that (since I am writing this years before you will read it) I have been a good role model for you. I will leave Mr. Dawkins’ final paragraph un-edited because it is better than any I could come up with.
What can we do about all this? It is not easy for you to do anything, because you are only ten. But you could try this. Next time somebody tells you something that sounds important, think to yourself: ‘Is this the kind of thing that people probably know because of evidence? Or is it the kind of thing that people only believe because of tradition, authority or revelation?’ And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: ‘What kind of evidence is there for that?’ And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.
Love your Daddy
Again to Merriam-Webster, revelation is the act of revealing to view or making known. Suppose I told you that Racer or Cleo (I do hope they are still around when you get to read this) had passed away. You would be upset but then you would ask questions; Are you sure? What happened? Where did it happen? When did it happen? If my answer was that I only had a feeling you would be skeptical and would hopefully know that a feeling is not good enough reason to believe. We all have feelings inside ourselves, but to be sure of something we require evidence. You may not actually want to see the body of our deceased cat but you would want to talk to someone who had and ask questions about their evidence.
An argument for revelation is that if you don’t trust any of the little feelings you have there is no way to be confident of concepts like love. I love you, your mother loves me, I love her, these are not merely little feelings we have deep down. When we are together many little happenings occur that can be backed up by tiny evidences that add up. That special look in your eye, little favors we do for each other, the soft touches we share, the way we speak to each other; these are all little pieces of real evidence that back up that feeling we have inside.
A scientist finds value in those feelings we all have as well, but only as a starting point. That feeling/urge/hunch is not a good reason to believe something, it can be a reason to spend time and resources on a particular experiment. Science knows that these feelings are worth nothing until they have been supported by evidence.
Many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will stand and give testimony professing that they know the church to be true, the one and only, restored church of Jesus Christ. This is purely revelation. The plates that Joseph Smith reportedly “translated” are no longer available for critique. The papyri that reportedly contained the Book of Abraham have been found to contain none of the information that was “translated.” Many evidences have surfaced that are directly contradictory to the belief that Smith translated/wrote the Book of Mormon. Still, the members stand and give their testimony of their personal revelations. The children, too, are brought up before the congregation to profess that they know the truth of the gospel and that the church is the one true church. This is the link between revelation and tradition. In many of these cases they are brought up by their age group, being told the exact words to say, and have not read the holy books for themselves (if they can even read at that point). Please consider, do you think they truly believe this? Is personal revelation even a good reason to believe?
Merriam-Webster defines authority many ways the best for this discussion is power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior; a convincing force. In the Catholic Church it is the pope. In the LDS it is the prophet. In the Muslim religion they are the Ayatollahs. The followers of the religion are required to believe their respective leader in all things simply because of their authority in the church, no evidence is required and in fact is rarely available.
In science, most often, we have not seen the evidence for ourselves and we must take the scientists word for what we know to be true. I have not seen for myself that light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles/second; I believe the scientific publishing that makes this claim. This seems very much like authority but it is much better than that. Anyone can educate themselves on the subject, find the evidence and would most likely come to the same answer. A major difference is if someone came to a different conclusion, it would be investigated more in depth and if the new result was truer than the previously held belief, science would reevaluate its position.
In religion there is often no evidence available for review for the most remarkable claims. In 1950, the pope told the people of the Catholic Church that the body of Mary was taken into heaven, though there is no evidence in their bible that says anything of the sort. They believe merely because he is the pope. In the 1845, Joseph Smith found and translated the Egyptian papyri as the Book of Abraham. In his day it was a rare ability to be able to translate Egyptian and they had no way to disprove what he was saying. They believed his authority on the matter as the prophet of the church. The evidence that is available of his “translations” can now be examined by scientists and is actually evidence against the fact that he translated them at all. In one branch of the Muslim religion, the important people are old men with beards called Ayatollahs. Lots of young Muslims are prepared to commit murder, purely because the Ayatollahs in a faraway country tell them to.
“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”
-Seneca the Younger