Crushing Critical Thought


This is the Mormon article from their website about how to crush critical thought.

Asking questions is essential for learning. But how you ask a question can make a huge difference in where it leads you.

There have always been two sorts of humans. One group of people who are orthodox and do not question the status quo.

And the other group who eat mushrooms. Low risk, low reward and high risk, high reward. We try to encourage kids to be high risk and high reward when younger so that they learn enough to avoid making mistakes when older.

I do not understand the whole “well disciplined child” stereotype. Look, I understand it would be nice to eat dinner without a kid asking awkward questions but what I think helps children is if children were allowed to express themselves and learnt discipline of when they need to be quiet and when they can ask. This isn’t “let your children run wild” but teach them when and where they can cut lose. Children should be encouraged to go out and get dirty and splash around in streams and bring back frogs. Maybe I am awfully romantic about a childhood spent doing those things but I also had video games. I think both are important and that kids do need boundaries and to play outside more.

So it often seems puzzling when religious people try to stifle that.

Questioning vs. Asking Questions

There are basically two different ways we can approach our questions. For our purposes here, we’ll distinguish between these approaches by labeling them questioning and asking questions. When it comes to matters of faith, there can be a pretty big difference between the two. The difference has to do with how and why you’re asking the questions, what you hope to gain from them, and where they’ll eventually lead you.

Questioning, here, refers to challenging, disputing, or picking something apart. When it comes to religion, the result of this approach is often not to find answers but rather to find fault and destroy confidence.

The difference between questioning and asking questions has to do with how and why you’re asking the questions, what you hope to gain from them, and where they’ll eventually lead you.

So the problem here is you should ask questions but not those questions which we have crappy answers for  otherwise we come off looking kind of bad.

The problem with religion is that religion says it has all the answers. Religion cannot say “it doesn’t know”. Any ignorance is an ignorance created by the divine creator who has yet to reveal a mystery. In science? Not knowing something is the first step in finding out how it works.

Any question that exposes the cracks in religion. The really hard questions… those are considered negative.

On the other hand, in religion, just as in science or anything else worth studying, it’s absolutely essential to ask questions, even difficult ones. It’s the only way you’ll get answers. And answers mean greater knowledge and understanding—and in the case of religion, greater faith and spirituality.

From my understanding? This means that asking theological questions promotes Mormonism while asking about the intrinsic flaws to the whole “Mormon Founder Story” is considered bad.

So, your attitude and your motive in asking a question can make all the difference in where it will eventually lead you. For instance, if you’re studying the scriptures and come across a passage that seems to contradict a Church teaching or a scientific or historical fact, there’s a big difference between asking “How could the scriptures (or the Church) possibly be true if … ?” and asking “What’s the full context of this passage and what does it mean in light of … ?” The first question may lead you to a hastily drawn conclusion based on skepticism and doubt rather than actual knowledge or logic, whereas the second is more likely to lead you to greater insight and faith.

Though this example is a bit extreme, it illustrates how paying attention to the questions you ask and the reasons you ask them can help you to avoid drifting from asking questions into questioning.

See this is it. When opposed by a scientific fact or a historical fact, Mormonism bans the question of veracity but encourages the question that allows an excuse.

And I like the fact that “knowledge” is utilised for a superstitious belief. We consider people who pray to the elements or ancestors to be amusingly superstitious. We even mock people who read horoscopes (I read it because I want someone to say  “The Moon is in Uranus, Good fortune ahead”) seriously. But if it is a religion followed by a lot of white guys, it becomes a sacred statement.

A good example is an argument I have seen with regards to Islam. Paedo Mohammed. And I bet I am going to get a tonne of hate mail for saying this… Stop. It really is stupid. See? Paedo Mohammed speaks about Aisha and how he was betrothed to a 9 Year old Girl. A common practice across the whole damn world. See it is disgusting to us because we see children as different. The thing was that wasn’t the case for most of history. Children were often treated as tiny adults, they often had to work and even go to war.

And if we are speaking about Paedo Mohammed, let us not forget that the Virgin Mary was a child herself. Being around 13 to 16 years old. It isn’t a guess. Historically, girls were married off after their first menses. We quite happiily accepted child brides for thousands of years in the West. The Island of Bombay was given as a dowry for a child bride between Portugal and the UK. Child marriages were the norm for centuries.

Yet we never hold Jehovah as a paedophile and indeed the power discrepancy and coerciveness of the conception of Jesus myth. It is just Mohammed who is considered a paedophile. The joke is Mohammed was no different from all men of that age. Including the guys who wrote the Bible who had no problems with Joseph and indeed Jehovah marrying/having magic sex with a minor.

Muslims dance through the hoops to explain this. Christians just conveniently forget and portray her as much older.

What If Something Doesn’t Make Sense?

As you study and learn and pray, you may come across something that troubles you or doesn’t make sense to you no matter how much you try to understand it. What should you do then?

First, ask yourself, “How vital is this question to my overall understanding and testimony of the gospel?” If you feel it really is important, try as best you can to resolve it, and ask for help from someone you trust, such as a parent, Church leader, or seminary teacher. This process can even be beneficial, as President Howard W. Hunter (1907–1995) explained: “I have sympathy for young men and young women when honest doubts enter their minds and they engage in the great conflict of resolving doubts. These doubts can be resolved, if they have an honest desire to know the truth, by exercising moral, spiritual, and mental effort. They will emerge from the conflict into a firmer, stronger, larger faith because of the struggle. They have gone from a simple, trusting faith, through doubt and conflict, into a solid substantial faith which ripens into testimony” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1960, 108).

It isn’t important. If you have a question that seriously shakes the foundations of your faith then the question is irrelevant, unimportant. You are unenlightened and so cannot see the greater picture.

What a load of twaddle.

If you find that a question isn’t that important, set it aside in your mental “To Be Answered Later” file. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said that as we “remain steady and patient” through our lives, “at times, the Lord’s answer will be, ‘You don’t know everything, but you know enough’—enough to keep the commandments and to do what is right” (“You Know Enough,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 13).

Any question  that we cannot answer is not important.

Which is just sad. See, some of our greatest inventions come from looking at unimportant places. Let us take the infamous healing of a leper by Jesus. A Miracle.

We learnt how to do that from one single incident with a contaminated petri dish from a fungus that commonly grows on oranges. Penicillin started the search for antibiotics.

Which lead us to Dapsone which is now part of the prescription for Leprosy. In effect? That miracle is now so mundane that leprosy is being eliminated.

Because we choose to press forward in faith even though we don’t have the answer to every question, some people may accuse us of exercising “blind obedience” or of being “anti-intellectual.” Is this a fair claim? Are there some things we aren’t allowed to study or questions we aren’t allowed to ask? Well, no, not really.

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once said to a group of young people: “You will hear allegations that the Church is ‘anti-intellectual.’ … You are the greatest evidence to refute such an erroneous statement. Individually, you have been encouraged to learn and to seek knowledge from any dependable source. In the Church, we embrace all truth, whether it comes from the scientific laboratory or from the revealed word of the Lord. We accept all truth as being part of the gospel” (“Begin with the End in Mind,” Brigham Young University 1984–85 Devotional and Fireside Speeches [1985], 17).

You aren’t allowed to study something if you come to the wrong conclusion. And the problem is dependable sources.

If a source says something that is correct that you don’t like, it is an undependable source.

A Diet of Doubt vs. a Feast of Faith

If you focus entirely on the intellect in your gospel study, you run the risk of spiritual malnutrition, because questioning and skepticism are pretty thin gruel. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has explained: “There are those whose intellectual approach to spiritual things has left them spiritually undernourished and vulnerable to doubts and misgivings. … The things of God, including a spiritual conversion and testimony, must be transmitted in the Lord’s way, ‘by the Spirit’” (“Nourishing the Spirit,” Ensign or Liahona, Dec. 1998, 9–10).

Asking questions doesn’t need to cause doubt. In fact, it can help you build your faith.

A diet of doubt will starve your spirit, but a feast of faith will feed you “even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst” (Alma 32:42). Asking questions doesn’t need to cause doubt, though. In fact, it can help you build your faith. So keep asking good questions. Keep studying and praying and thinking deeply. As you do, the Holy Ghost will help you recognize which questions leave you spiritually famished and which ones lead you to “feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3).

Doubt is the engine of progress. I don’t think it is magic is at it’s core the reason for progress. It allows us to look under the bed and in the cupboard.

I would liken doubt as Susan’s Poker. It slays monsters. Except it is the ones that we have created to explain the unexplainable. I doubt that there is a monster under the bed.

Sure it sometimes destroys beautiful things like Santa and the Tooth Fairy but it is part of being a human that we have doubts about things that we must satisfy by experience. And one of the doubts that religion must quell is the doubt of their claim. Doubt may starve your spirit, but it can feed your mind.

Freedom and Duty

“As a Church, we encourage gospel scholarship and the search to understand all truth. Fundamental to our theology is belief in individual freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression. Constructive discussion is a privilege of every Latter-day Saint.

“But it is the greater obligation of every Latter-day Saint to move forward the work of the Lord, to strengthen His kingdom on the earth, to teach faith and build testimony in that which God has brought to pass in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Keep the Faith,” Ensign, Sept. 1985, 5–6).

Again, the key note being constructive. Imagine if we held ideas as canon. Things like geo-centric universes were once so canonical that you could be executed for doubting it. They only line of thought was building upon the Geo-Centric canon.

Imagine the destructive notion, of a helio-centric solar system and a Universe where we are not the divinely ordained centre.

Dispelling Doubt

“Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.

“Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts: ‘I propose to stay with my faith, with the faith of my people. I know that happiness and contentment are there, and I forbid you, agnostic, doubting thoughts, to destroy the house of my faith. I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God’s word. I wasn’t with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it’” (Thomas S. Monson, “The Lighthouse of the Lord,” New Era, Feb. 2001, 9).

And thus we see that the biggest fear that Mormons have is that people will doubt things taken for granted. And that doubt is deadly to faith. It is why doubt is consistently treated as a failing. As rabble rousing.

Because the biggest doubt one can have about Mormonism is that it’s just another religion created by a man possibly for his own benefit. And when you have that doubt, the events leading to the founding of Mormonism just seem really contrived.

That is why doubt is deadly to faith and that is why, the Church of Latter Day Saints encourages you to replace all doubts with blind faith while paying lip service to inquiry.

Comments

  1. says

    i.e.: ask questions for which you know the answer already, intended to “lead” the answer. It’s a primer for how to be a fox news reporter:
    “So tell me, isn’t it true that jesus healed the dead and walked on water?”
    “Why, such a probing question!”

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  3. says

    Questioning.
    … challenging, disputing, or picking something apart.

    Asking questions.
    Not even defined, unless you count the whole set of excuses given to stay away from anything that might undermine the conclusion that one’s religion is correct about everything.

    This seems to be a meaningless distinction designed purely to insert the insistence that one should only ask questions that only include contexts that assume that the claims of the religion are true. Artificially creating a division between different ways of describing the same thing is, I’m not sure what to call it but it’s pretty dishonest and just serves to mentally break up what one believes questioning/asking questions is. This is word games designed to screw up commonly understood meanings of the words.

    I rarely see a more obvious example of how much of religion seems designed to screw up how we assess reality in favor of maintaining a social structure.

  4. Holms says

    This may as well be summarised as “Don’t question, but rather look for excuses.”

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