Monday, May 4, 2009

Why not just go along?

Recently, a discussion with a friend ended when he suggested that I just go along. Other close friends and family members have suggested the same.

And don't think that I haven't thought of it. In fact, I thought of it for fifteen or so years... What's wrong with just going along anyways. Clearly there would be many benefits to 'just going along', but I believe that 'just going along' is destructive, dishonest and ultimately puts me on a path to personal mental risk and will produce long term family disfunction.

I've often tried to consider 'just going along'. As my friend suggests,

"if the church is true and you just have some issues with some things, wouldn't you still rather err on the side of going through the motions and potentially receiving the blessings promised"

Of course, this was my take from the beginning of my trail. I believed that the church was true, but just had some issues that must surely be misunderstandings on my part. After all, I had felt the spirit, and therefore, it must be true on that basis alone because an extra-terrestrial being of light (the holy ghost) sent by the actual creator of this world (including me) had sent a confirmation of my requests for knowledge. Certainly, that must be enough. And if the source of that 'confirmation' could in fact be verified and if it could be wholly claimed by the Mormon church, sort of like a spiritual patent, then I would accept it. Unfortunately, I have realized that this 'spiritual witness' is claimed to be used by nearly all spiritual denominations in one form or another, including Spiritualists, Muslims, Evangelists, Catholics, etc. By this test, all of the churches are true, true enough to pass the test anyways. In fact, Atheism, or Humanism as practiced by John Lennon, would also pass the test. If you don't believe me, take a minute to watch his music video 'War is Over' promoting the absence of Religion (among other things) to remove the wars fought in the name of absolute organized religion and patriotism, or take a listen to 'Imagine'.
Both songs invoke a very strong 'feeling' using both imagery and music to stir emotions.
While I'm not saying that we should disregard feelings, I am asserting that a spiritual testimony of the Book of Mormon based on feelings is enough to establish the truth to Joseph Smith's claims to supernatural communications with a supernatural being such as an all powerful God.

For my part then, there is enough evidence to suggest clearly to me that Joseph Smith wasn't in fact directed by God. Under this line of reasoning then, to 'just go along' would be to deny myself and betray my own mental capacities.

What if I were to ask the same of one of these fellow human beings? What if I were to ask my friend to 'just go along' with the Jehovah's Witnesses, or Muslims, or radical muslims for that matter? After all, they might be true as well. Sure they aren't the pre-dominant religion of this area, but they are the pre-dominant religion of another area. Could he ever see himself 'just going along' with them? Would he be able to deny his daughters their privileges and rights to learn and grow their intelligence? Or would he fight to bring them their rights of study and intellectual growth?

To remain silent at that point would clearly lead him to conscienciously deprive his family of the tools necessary to not only survive and prosper in this world, but it would also remove from them, their ability to pursue their own human fullness, or as Maslow put it, the highest rung in the hierarchy of needs, 'Self-actualization'

My friend may argue that he would never do that, and he may also argue that the comparison isn't apples to apples. Islam is nothing close to Mormonism, and the comparison isn't valid. That might be true, however, there are many aspects to Mormonism that as a follower must be received as follower as inspired revelation. I.e. Mormonism teaches members to accept Mormon Doctrine on Faith. In the past, there have been some very strange Mormon Doctrines that members have been asked to accept on faith, and there may be future church positions that require it as well.

E.g. the Mormon church has made its (current) position on marriage clear. A marriage is defined as being between one man and one (or more in the hereafter) woman. Members of the unfortunate homosexual community are asked to remain second class citizens. The Mormon church has even used its power to influence political processes regarding this issue.

Why don't I just go along? Questions such as these are difficult questions, and should not be left up to Mormon leaders. Instead, individuals should investigate these issues as they come and search out their own thoughts, and the thoughts and experiences of others in deciding their support for such things. I don't want my children, or those I know to agree with the Brethren on anything, unless they would investigate an issue for themselves and independently come to the same conclusion.

I want my children and those that I know that I don't simply accept the decisions made by the church because at the least, I know that the church is fallible. This point is important. The church is fallible. If the church is true, i.e. formed by an all-knowing supernatural being that created it and controls it, then it wouldn't be fallible, but it has reversed many direct revelations (See polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, interracial marriage, the voree plates and strangites, McConkies predictions on space travel, etc.). The church leaders are good men, but they do not speak with a supernatural being that knows everything. They are humans, running a church built by fallible humans, and their decisions are therefore suspect, and should be subjected to normal human skepticism and held to the same standard of proof, reason and justice as the rest of the world.

I don't 'just go along' because just going along indicates my acceptance of it being ok to claim divine providence when none exists. I can go along with science because science makes no claims of supernatural beings directing their findings. It's all an open book. Science admits fallibility, and openly requests careful scrutiny by all, and hides no sources from view. Religion claims exclusive rights to sources of immutable knowledge whereas science understands that humans are often wrong.