Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"So called" intellectuals

One of the things I increasingly noticed about attempting to maintain my belief in the church is that in order to do so, I had to increasingly ignore what science had to say about things in the world around me. The more I became exposed to what science has to say about major world events (such as a universal flood, for example) the more I had to rely on wild speculation to explain the continued belief in it, that may have been based on a tiny sliver of remote possibility, but the likelihood of which became increasingly remote the more I was grounded in reality and the more I looked objectively at what science has to say about history and the world around me.

Some of the things I have heard believers say in response to several of my objections about the likelihood of events happening the way they are depicted in the Bible and the Book of Mormon is that those events happened soooo long ago that the world could have changed significantly since those events occurred. Unfortunately, this is not likely. The world does change over time, but not that fast and not in THAT significant a fashion. When I ask about why there is no evidence of the complete and total destruction of several major cities as described in 3rd Nephi in the Book of Mormon the explanation is that either we haven't found the evidence yet, or God is hiding it. Even though the civilizations we find remnants of in South America were all built well before the events in 3rd Nephi supposedly transpired, there must still be evidence out there that the massive destruction really did happen. The more people dig, the less they find that it is likely that events occurred the way the Book of Mormon depicts, but people who believe have to remain in denial (or in the dark or cling to wild and unsubstantiated speculation about what may have happened to the evidence of such events) about those discoveries in order to maintain their faith.

When I bring up the objection that says that the Red Sea has never had rivers flowing into it, even though the Book of Mormon states that there was a river that flowed "constantly" into the Red Sea (see 1 Nephi 2:8). We know from science that no rivers run consistently into the Red Sea. So the way this is reconciled is to say that there might have been some rain water runoff that Lehi and the gang happened to stumble across...but one would think that having been from that region and all they should have known that the Red Sea area was not known for having much fresh water. Here is a great video about this here.

This is not to mention the fact that the Book of Mormon expects us to swallow that a group of families traveled on foot the distance of over 250 miles over some of the roughest terrain known to man in 3 days. I mean, I'm sure these people were tough and all, but c'mon, for realsies?

Even though thinking about the reality of a caravan of families traveling through the desert region east of the Red Sea and actually being able to survive for more than a few days becomes quite ridiculous when seriously thought about, the believer sees the unlikelihood of the events transpiring the way they are said to have in the Book of Mormon as making the story more faith promoting (i.e. God causes very unlikely things to happen all the time). I tend to see the infeasibility of the events as an indicator that they are likely not true. They are either highly embellished folk tales or they didn't really happen at all.

What I really don't like is that the more I worked to maintain my faith in the reality of what the scriptures teach, the more I found myself coming up on the short end of what scientists have discovered about the world around me. There just came a point where I had to say that science can't be wrong about so much in the world.

Of course, believers tend to point out that science seems to change its conclusions about things over time. They cite the advice about drinking a glass of red wine a day and say that science has changed it's position on that at least a few times since announcing the discovery. To this I can only respond that I would rather place my faith in science, and the attempts to try to discover the truth of things through the scientific method, than settle for what some ancient book (or old guy) assures me is true based on a "feeling".

I also wanted to throw in a link to the skeptics annotated Book of Mormon for anyone who wants to check out all the nifty stuff people laugh at in the Book of Mormon here. They also have the Skeptics annotated Bible here. Enjoy.

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  1. When I think about having been taught these fairy-tales as a child as though they were true it makes me feel pretty mad. It was and is dead-set brainwashing. To have been subjected to this ridiculous way of looking at the world, told not to question it, and then shunned for rejecting it later in life just sucks puss any way you look at it. Some never-Mormons say to me that there must be some good things that I gained from religion but I disagree. Religionists are no better at parenting than secularists. Blech! "God must be hiding it", "God will show us in time" whatever!!! Yes, as a child I accepted these answers but not anymore.

    Thanks for the link to the skeptics BOM, I haven't seen that b4. And can I borrow your note about Firefox??

  2. Hi Maureen,

    Yes, the more I think about it the more I realize that the myths presented are designed to comfort children. Unfortunately, many simply cannot accept that they may be false. They will cling to them until they die because it is just too hard to grow up and accept what we are constantly discovering about the world around us.

    When I heard people say that they were free, I didn't truly understand what they were talking about until I experienced it myself. When one is free from the mythology and can literally accept the world as it is...even though it is very difficult at times to come to grips is truly liberating to be able to live in the real world instead of some fantasy.

    The best analogy of this I have seen is the congruence between experience and beliefs as outlined in this video:

    Of course you can use the note I have on here about Firefox. I just wanted to be helpful!

  3. "The world does change over time, but not that fast and not in THAT significant a fashion."

    And when the world changes significantly, it leaves evidence everywhere. When the climate changes, we see a difference in the soil/rock layers. When things shift around, we see the evidence of that as well. If a volcano exploded somewhere a million years ago, we have the skills to know it. When big changes happen, there is a myriad of evidence to show what, why, and how. With the BoM, this is not the case. We simply have no evidence.