Is religion useful once you discover the hoax?

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I suppose I’m following the counsel of President Hinckley when he said if Joseph Smith did not have the First Vision then this is all a fraud!

I’m trying to be authentic, so for me that means living true to what I’ve discovered about objective reality. If something is not true I believe it disconnects me from reality if I believe & follow it.

However, I accept that people have various reasons for believing in religion: a sense of community, a purpose or meaning of life & a sense of security.

But I also think those things are ultimately built on crumbly foundations if not built on objective, factual Truth!

In the end I am not a relativist, believing that truth is whatever you want to believe. I think truth is solid, reliable, provable & real.

I think the reason religion has such a strong appeal is due to the power of stories, myths & legends on our psyche.

I believe stories, whether true or false, have power.

I think stories can inspire & motivate us. They can teach us useful principles & lessons on good social relations etc.

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I’m reminded of Aesop’s Fables.

I think the problem occurs when the story-teller promotes their fictional narrative to the status of factual truth or reality. Especially when the narrative is absurd & bizarre and not related to reality. I think then the danger is that superstitious minds can start to become disconnected from the natural world, other people & their day to day lives, as they start to believe in irrational, supernatural powers & events.

I believe evolutionary psychologists have explained this tendency as an advantageous adaption for our ancient ancestors to cope with a scary dangerous natural world they couldn’t explain or understand.

Now that we’ve gained a greater understanding of the natural world through the medium of scientific research we really don’t need to believe in those myths & legends as actual depictions of reality, even though they are fun to contemplate. (I love Lord of the Rings & Avatar movies).

I think fictional narratives continue to give people meaning, purpose & security, but at what cost? When factual truths are available as the alternative nowadays.

I’m reminded of Paul H Dunn’s spiritually uplifting, but fictional General Conference war stories. Lying for the Lord! Again!

My question is: do the ends justify the means? 

I think religions use narrative to control people at the emotional level where they are most vulnerable.

I’m not convinced this is valuable, moral or ethical.

I think these quotes are relevant:
Anthony Campbell, “One reason why religions have such a strong hold on human societies is that they are based not primarily on intellectual beliefs but on narratives.” “Story-telling accesses the human psyche not at the intellectual but at the emotional level where it is more powerful.”

“Religion is primarily a search for security and not a search for truth. Religion is what we so often use to bank the fires of our anxiety. That is why religion tends towards becoming excessive, neurotic, controlling, and even evil. That is why a religious government is always a cruel government. People need to understand that questioning and doubting are healthy, human activities to be encouraged not feared. Certainty is a vice not a virtue. Insecurity is something to be grasped and treasured. A true and healthy religious system will encourage each of these activities. A sick and fearful religious system will seek to remove them.” -Bishop ]ohn Shelby Spong, Retired Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Newark, USA.

Gerry Spence said in his book, “I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” But sadly this is not the case for most people.

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12 Responses to Is religion useful once you discover the hoax?

  1. Sharon jagger says:

    Steve, I like Bishop Spongs’ statement “religion is primarily a search for security” I have to agree with this. By ‘eck you’re expanding my mind !

    • stevebloor says:

      Hi Sharon,

      Bishop Spong is my kind of Church leader. (Not that I need one ;-))

      Controversial, but wise!

      He doesn’t even believe in Hell!

      Check out his YouTube videos!

      Brilliant!

  2. Jeff Walsh says:

    Hi Steve I notice on your blog that from the beginning you have very few negative comments, are you so insecure with your new life that you seem to need to delete any blog that challeges your new way of thinking? Jeff Walsh

  3. Chuck Doucette says:

    Come on, really a guy finds a golden tablet in the desert and founds a new religion on it-that’s somehow believable? I have to suppose that neither you or any other Mormon ever truly believed that rubbish.

    • Jeff Walsh says:

      Well my friend it just might be the case that the millions who follow the faith are right and you are wrong. Some day you yourself may also find the truth rather than relying on what others are saying. Jeff Walsh

      • SteveBloor says:

        Hi Jeff,

        Thank you for your efforts to save me & my many fellow followers of truth from falling into the perceived abyss of apostacy from the Church.

        I applaud your efforts, though I think your efforts will be in vain.

        It does you credit that you would care enough to try, despite your attempts to reach out to us perhaps causing you some distress in the process.

        I have not responded sooner because I consider you a friend, along with Steve,and I do not want to taint our relationship in any way by arguing with you.

        Please accept my sincere thanks & best wishes to all your family,

        Steve

  4. Nephi Hatcher says:

    Jeff, you must be kidding. So there’s a couple million who still go to church, But out of the billions in the world they’re the only ones right?! Just Cos there’s many peodophiles out there doesn’t mean it’s a good sign and they’re right even though their community defends it.

    Also would be awesome to get your take on “truth” and how to gain that knowledge. Chuck I imagine uses logic, which if you take a read at the dictionary you may become distraught to find when it comes to truth, the Mormon church teaches a square is in fact a triangle. Unfortunately the rest of the world know a square is a square and use that logic in everything.

  5. blooruk says:

    Perhaps another analogy/thought experiment….

    A person tells you there is a ball in a box. You cannot look in the box, but if you read this book it will teach you everything about the ball.

    It will also teach you how you can receive a confirmation of the truthfulness that there is in fact a ball in the box.

    You can read and ponder the words in the book, then pray to the invisible creator of the box – asking if there is not a ball in the box.

    If there is a ball, you will receive a good feeling.

    This is a sure knowledge that the ball is in the box.

    Easy!

    • Nephi Hatcher says:

      That is ludicrous. A good feeling is a sure knowledge?! If you seriously believe that, then, well, like every other Mormon who thinks the same, sure whatever. I’ll stick to the dictionary definition(s). None of which relate to feelings.

      Can you imagine the jury using your “Easy” method on finding and evaluating the truth of a case? Or even taking a multiple choice test using that method? No one would accept the verdict or test results as true and correct. Unless maybe a few crazy Mormons.

      Seriously, I’d just open the box and look for the ball. In this case I’d say, yes there was something rattling inside. But it wasn’t a ball. Just a dried up piece of bull**it. Much quicker, easier and most of all… LOGICAL.

      I love the invisible creator…

  6. Jeff Walsh says:

    Steve, Thanks for your comments, I appreciate the sentiments you expressed.

    Because we are having a few problems in our ward, I decided as High Priests group leader to look into the web sites which some of our members were looking at. The first impression seemed plausable until one looks further into the sources of the information which is being presented especially on Mormonthink. I find there that books are being quoted by authors such as D Michael Quinn, Todd Compton, Richard Van Wagonner, George D Smith, Dan Vogel , Grant Palmer and a host of other anti-Mormon axe grinding people who still claim to be believing members (this is laughable when you read what they say)

    The real tradgedy is that people especially the career anti-Mormon adverseries along with some of our members are accepting what they say without looking where the information they are saying comes from. Incidentalyy the vast majority of these books are published by Signature Books founded by George D Smith, and on the board of directors of this company and editors are the very people who are writing these books and papers, and of course have fnancial interest in the sale of the books.

    Anyway I wish you well in your future life and assure you if you ever would like to discuss some of these issues I would be more than happy to help. Respectfully Yours Jeff Walsh

  7. Pingback: Truthfulness versus Perceived Usefulness | Steve Bloor's Blog

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