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Friday Minute: Friday Minute: Religious conscience in public debate

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  • jenrmc Fort Worth, TX
    May 10, 2011 2:37 p.m.

    I read over some of the comments and I would like to clear something up that seems to be a recurring theme. Those opposed to using God as a defense in a debate aren't threatened by the use of God nor are they, in my opinion, staunchly opposed to anyone believing in God. The reason that it is such a sticking point to so many is that it appears logic is not being used by those who are defending the use of God as a viable argument. In a world that has so many facts and resources available the need to use the existence of God as the sole argument for/against something is astounding to those who prefer to use facts that illustrate and support their position. In my experience you will be hard pressed to find a non-believer who is adamantly opposed to the belief in God by others. In a debate you are free to use whatever defense you would like but don't be surprised if someone disagrees with you nor should you be vehemently offended by that. Thankfully The United States of America affords us the right to free speech and thought.

  • sundancejedi Provo, UT
    May 10, 2011 2:35 p.m.

    ADN- "Denying the existence of God is just another way of trying to get out of accountability."

    I rather see it as the other way around. The religious folks are really those lacking true accountability. They will ultimately say they are accountable only to God (ex:Vatican). Whereas the rest of society is accountable to: each other, the law, and the law enforcement. Its quite convenient to say that the ultimate authority is one you cannot see or really even prove exists. I can easily say that Zeus is who I am accountable to and most people would probably laugh me into a mental hospital. Real accountability has real authorities.

  • dalep2u Herriman, UT
    May 10, 2011 1:06 p.m.

    The problem with Religions is that they like to choose what is acceptable for the burden of proof.

    Here's an example...there is no proof that a flood of the magnitude of the great flood of Noah ever happened.

    Yet all Christian religions believe it to have been an actual happening.

    They choose to ignore science (when applicable) and fact by using the get out of jail free card of...."It must be a miracle".

    How can you have a serious discussion with someone who won't or cannot accept solid proof that something didn't happen?

    So the argument will continue....with no one the winner and everyone the looser.

  • ADN Weiser, ID
    May 10, 2011 12:45 p.m.

    Denying the existence of God is just another way of trying to get out of accountability. Which means there are many people who know they are not living in accordance with the laws of God. It is like they are saying: "If you can't change God or His laws, then just discredit them, then maybe they'll go away. In the meantime I will feel better about myself, because just maybe someday if I get enough people to go along with the idea that God isn't real, then the accountability will go away too." This type of thinking is a psuedo friend which will inevitably betray you.

    There is a consequence to all things, whether good or bad. There will be an acountability for how we used our time on this planet. I know God is real and that He has sent us here to prove us in all things.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    May 9, 2011 4:08 p.m.

    Jeff,

    As long as it is YOUR religious reasons for forcing YOUR way onto everyone, I am confident you do prefer religious reasons for everything.

    But those who do not kneel to your gods, and who do not worship your deities, will resist your theocratic arrogance and religious imperialism.

    We will resist with violence, if necessary.

    Hence, the wars.

    In other words, your arrogance is exactly what causes wars!

    You help make charlie's case.

    Well done.

  • charlie91342 Sylmar, CA
    May 9, 2011 3:58 p.m.

    so, Jeff, you cannot make a case for any laws unless you use religion? Therefore, in your mind, it is acceptable to force others to follow your religious doctrine. And you find that perfectly acceptable. wow

    And I never said "religion should be restricted from public debates or access to public forums". I did say it shouldn't influence laws, and the fact that you disagree really scares me. Having dominant religions push their biblical morals onto others is one of the most greivious "sins" I can think of. You would take away the freedoms of others on no more whim than "I read it in a book".

    My point was and is that if you cannot make a case for a laws using a "harm to others" and a fairness logic than you are simply forcing your religious viewpoint onto others. And that is the exact opposite of freedom of religion.

    I really don't care about SSM or any other issue like that. But what I DO care about is that people of varying beliefs only impose those beliefs on like-minded people. To force them onto the general population is blatantly wrong.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    May 9, 2011 3:36 p.m.

    charlie91342 suggests, as many before him, that we shouldn't "use religion to justify" making laws because "most of the wars throughout history were due to doing exactly that." This is so often repeated--that religion is responsible for "most of the wars in history"--that I think many people may actually believe it. If there were room, we could do a quick survey of the wars in history and quickly determine that most of the had nothing to do with religion; they were grabs for land. Most so-called religious wars were really battles for political supremacy during which religion served no more than as a justification for the war, but not a reason. The Spanish Inquisition (not a war) was an excuse for establishing non-African supremacy over the Iberian peninsula, and is much more comparable to the atheistic purges in Stalinist Russia than an true religious war.

    This idea that religions caused wars, therefore religion should be restricted from public debates or access to public forums or influence in laws is based on a non-factual assumption and should be rejected.

    There are biological reasons for banning same-gender marriage, but I prefer the religious ones.

  • charlie91342 Sylmar, CA
    May 9, 2011 2:42 p.m.

    There should never be any laws based on a religious point of view. It simply should not happen, and if it does it is wrong.

    if you cannot make your case for a law using standard "harm to others" logic then the law cannot be applied to everyone.

    as Jeff | 10:14 p.m stated, "it is clearly within Church policy and doctrine to oppose same-gender marriage" and he is probably correct. But that means oppose it only for your church members, not for all of society.

    if you cannot justify a ban on SSM (or any other law to control people) without using religious references or "that's how we always did it", then there shouldn't be a ban.

    don't use religion to justify controlling others. Most of the wars throughout history were due to doing exactly that. We should be well past that by now.

  • charlie91342 Sylmar, CA
    May 9, 2011 2:28 p.m.

    wow. The very first line "Gods critics frequently refuse to accept the same burden of proof they demand of believers" is so outlandish I'm surprised anyone even printed it.

    God doesn't have critics. Religion has critics, as well they should.

    And that's the biggest problem with religions. They think they represent God, so anything that critisizes the religion critisizes their God. And that is simply ridiculous.

    Islamists say that about cartoons depicting their savior. And here you are saying the same thing about people that are simply critisizing you or your church or religion. I personally think religion is a big scam, but that is not critisizing God. That is critisizing religion.

    for any religion to think they are His mouthpiece and anything said about that religion is an insult to God is simply conceit beyond imagination.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    May 9, 2011 1:31 p.m.

    When we get into the field of "organized" religion, that's where the termites start eating the wood! Organizations of any sort - churches, governments corporations, etc., may start out with the altruistic intention of existing to serve their members, but quickly devolve....into the opposite position where their members exist to serve them. At that point, the focus of the behavioral codes subtley shifts to foster the interests of the organization, and its behavioral guidelines will begin to follow suit. Unfortunately, there is NO rule, behavioral code or law (inside or outside of religion), no matter how benevolent that cannot be perverted to serve negative ends and means. The religious extremist is the one who fails to think for him/herself, is unable or unwilling to see these changes and faithfully follows what might once have been an honorable code of ethics in a downward spiral and into all manner of sanctimonious justifications for the furtherance of man's inhumanity to man.

    What responsibility do you have to ensure your personal beliefs or convictions do not come into conflict with the rights of others? Religious conscience can be accomodated, but it must not be allowed to dominate!

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    May 9, 2011 10:08 a.m.

    Youre right. Homosexual conduct IS a sin...per our SUBJECTIVE religious opinion. Were not saying that it isnt or that it shouldnt be. Scripture states though that we cant deny individual liberty simply because people use their liberty to sin.

    The Proclamation isnt scripture and wont be because too many faithful LDS realize that it was issued as a call to limit the existing rights of others, contrary to scripture. Theyll vote against it denying it the required Common Consent to elevate it to scripture. I therefore seriously doubt that the Church will propose elevating it to scripture. Its been 16 years already. The Church likes the status quo of having many consider it as scripture without having to address the issues.

    Until and unless the Proclamation is raised to the status of scripture thereby overruling existing scripture, we must defend existing scripture. The prophets have stated if they say anything contrary to scripture, that we are duty bound to reject it. That includes the Proc.

  • I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
    May 9, 2011 9:18 a.m.

    Jeff,

    Nowhere in LDS scripture does it say Church members, or the Church in general, should "mingle religious influence with civil government" to use the force of law to require non-LDS people to live by the constraints of the Church.

    But official doctrine DOES explicitly say we should NOT mingle religious influence with civil government...

    YOU are the one on thin ice.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    May 8, 2011 10:14 p.m.

    @lds4gaymarriage: A problem with your use of scripture is that it cuts both ways. The scriptures are very clear that marriage should be between a man and a woman and that homosexuality is a sin.

    The statements of the prophets become scripture when they are joined by unanimous acceptance of the governing councils of the Church, carefully edited, vetted, given to the Church in published form, upon which the members of the Church give common consent to the acceptance of those statements as scriptural. The question of Prop. 8 and modern scripture is answered in the Proclamation on the Family, which passed through almost all the procedures necessary to qualify as scripture.

    You are on thin ice when you suggest that members of the Church should ignore the prophets and support a policy that is clearly against their scripture (by which I mean support for same-gender marriage). You might as well join those who argue support for SGM because there is no God, because all religions are evil, because Mormons are especially bad, or because SGM is not causing any immediate damage to the world.

    It is clearly within Church policy and doctrine to oppose same-gender marriage.

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    May 8, 2011 5:29 p.m.

    The proper role of religion in public policy debate is found in scripture. Scripture states that religious beliefs arent sufficient grounds to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others (1 Cor. 10:29, D&C 134:4). Since we cant FORCE people to be righteous, as Satan proposed doing, we have to persuade people to be righteous. The scriptures state that we do this, by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned (D&C 121:41).

    The doctrines of agency, individual choice and accountability show us that the Gospel is very libertarian in nature, the opposite of force and coercion. Lets liken this unto Prop8.

    Prop8 let our religious opinions prompt us to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others by revoking their then existing marriage rights. The prophets have stated that their own teachings are superseded by the scriptures, and that any of their statements contrary to scripture must be ignored. We were therefore in direct violation of scripture.

    Since Prop8 is clearly contrary to scripture, statements asking for support for Prop8 type initiatives are contrary to scripture and therefore the OFFICIAL Doctrine of the Church. Bottom Line!

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    May 8, 2011 3:58 p.m.

    My points are never anti-religion or anti-Mormonism. I have argued here and elsewhere that the religious are happier, more generous and charitable and do far more good and far less harm than atheists. As I have stated, I have yet to see "Atheist General Hospital". The atheists point to the Inquisition, but the Inquisition killed about 3000 people over 140 years. What did Hitler call 3000 deaths..."a slow day at the office." Mao was even worse. Atheism has killed more in the 20th century than religious wars have killed in all human history. If your grandma was walking down a dark alley and was being approached by a group of young men, would you b e relieved that they were coming from a Bible study? Obviously.

    Regarding Mormonism, I simply call upon all to follow the official doctrines of the Church (the scriptures), rather than the philosophies of men. Regarding Prop8, we need to do just that, quit "steadying the ark" and "do what is right and let the consequence follow. The pro-8 lawyers were so bad that they've filed motions to prevent their performance from being made available to the public. 'nuff said.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    May 7, 2011 4:42 p.m.

    This article is unbelievable from beginning to end.

    "Gods critics frequently refuse to accept the same burden of proof they demand of believers."

    Try this:

    "Big Foot's critics frequently refuse to accept the same burden of proof they demand of believers."

    or this:

    "The Tooth Fairy's critics frequently refuse to accept the same burden of proof they demand of believers."

    Does that even make any sense?

    It is a sure refutation of your argument when it can be applied without modification to support known absurdities and nonsense.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    May 7, 2011 1:48 p.m.

    yarrlydarb: Name me one that doesn't!

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 7, 2011 12:25 p.m.

    "The article, biology, and thousands of years of human experience are right in that same-gender marriage is at best worthless and at worst catastrophic."

    By what standard do you draw these conclusions? When has SSM resulted in a catastrophy? What is the standard of "worthlessmess", versus "worth"? If it is doctrinal, then how do you satisfy the rights of free society in country that values individuality in the context of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - a hierarchy of ordinally ranked virtues. How do you support the constitution when your political views would create a State Church? Or at the very least, a state doctrine defined by a singular Church.

    Who is trying to extricate religious conscience from the public discourse? What does that even mean, exactly? Policy should not be confused with discourse. Are you upset that your Church doesn't get the unfettered powers of legislation?

    I would ask the same question, "What indeed" would happen to those who can't reproduce in your "survival of the fittest" framework? What are you implying here?

    Lastly, what is your evidence (specifically, not generically) that religious folk are more civil in their discourse?

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 7, 2011 12:03 p.m.

    Jeff:

    The ability to articulate statements and sentences does not equal the ability to reason well. Your comments are consistently devoid of reason, though you suggest otherwise.

    Speak to the examples if you wish to be persuasive. It is easy to generically lump "critics" into a single basket and then dole out general criticisms that cannot be evaluated because they even been specifically stated. What do critics fail to prove?

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    May 7, 2011 11:46 a.m.

    Further, there is no good argument to restrict religion and religious conscience in the public debates over any policy. In fact, in the case of same-gender marriage, it would be disastrous for those who struggle with same-gender attraction to face a world unmoderated by the softening influence of religion. What, indeed, would happen to someone who can't/won't reproduce in the brutal world of survival of the fittest unmitigated by any moral tradition? Let us, by all means, keep religion and religious sensibilities in sensitive discussions.

    Yes, it's true that religious people--just like non-religious people--sometimes allow their argumentative self to overshadow their best judgement, but the fact remains that, with few exceptions, people who truly believe in the foundational tenets of the major world religions will be kinder, gentler, and more tolerant in their discourse--even when they disagree. Their religious sensibilities should be encouraged (as they were in ancient Rome, when the emperor became alarmed at rising tides of atheism), so that the state will mirror those sensibilities rather than the opposite.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    May 7, 2011 11:36 a.m.

    The article notes that those who disbelieve in God (or advocate for some typically anti-religious things such as same-gender marriage) usually, if not always, fail to prove their points. Often they fail to attempt to prove; instead they digress or attack, but there is no coherent attempt to prove a point with evidence.

    I note in these threads that the same thing holds true.

    I see arguments against religion in general, against Mormonism in particular, against the way God runs the world, against the lawyers in the Prop 8 case, and against believers in general. The only things I see in favor of atheism are that it has the ability to accomplish some of the same good as religion (I agree), that it allegedly lacks the downside of religion (I disagree), and that atheists are more courageous than religionists because they are willing to face the unknown (I disagree). The arguements in favor of gay marriage are that it's not that bad.

    Alma was right in that all things testify of God. The article, biology, and thousands of years of human experience are right in that same-gender marriage is at best worthless and at worst catastrophic.

  • yarrlydarb Ogden, UT
    May 7, 2011 9:31 a.m.

    A comment to: Dennis | 8:11 a.m. May 7, 2011
    Harwich, MA

    Hey Dennis, how about this? Prove to me scientifically that: "Virtually all religions, everywhere, run guilt at the forefront of religion doctrine."

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 7, 2011 8:34 a.m.

    Rifelman -

    The point is that even the Book of Mormon author understood the futility of the debate when representing the religious "defense". The atheist, characterized by Korihor in this story, is not stating a positive - but rather they/he were disputing the claims of religious leaders whose "faith" always seems to go hand in hand with the desire for authority and social/political influence. In the case of Korihor this dilemma is dichotomized by the example of the "degenerating" Nephites who had no laws that could punish a man for his belief, versus the progressing Lamanites who would detain and prosecute a religious dissenter.

    The thing that even the Book of Mormon author understood was that there is that the believers arguments are not at all compelling without some divine evidence. The best Alma could offer was "all things denote there is a God", hoping that his interpretation of cosmic grandeur would be compelling enough to favor the religious agenda. Still, there is no consideration beyond the fact that while Creation may bespeak a creator, it says nothing of the creator beyond creation. How does Alma then, for example, defend the atonement? He required a miracle, as do your leaders!

  • yarrlydarb Ogden, UT
    May 7, 2011 8:28 a.m.

    What I know to be true, I know to be true. And although I cannot produce the sort of "evidence" you require to convince you of what I know, neither can you produce even sort of "evidence" required to convince your fellow "scientists" (let alone me) that what you believe is in fact true.

    This silly debate will last as long as life as we know it exists on this earth.

    "O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not" (2 Nephi 9:28).

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    May 7, 2011 8:11 a.m.

    Religious conscience in public debate:
    Wow, what a topic. Virtually all religions, everywhere, run guilt at the forefront of religion doctrine. Why would you go and how much would you financially contribute if in not doing so you were hounded by guilt?

  • tweedmeister Yakima, WA
    May 6, 2011 9:51 p.m.

    Clearly he is shifting the burden of proof onto the "investigator" (to us a LDS parlance). In any religion, including the LDS church, it is the other way around. It is up to missionaries or leaders or whoever to accept the burden of proof and make a convincing argument.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2011 7:28 p.m.

    'In law, a foundational evidentiary protection is known as the burden of proof. A litigant asserting a particular fact must establish it by a "preponderance of evidence" in civil matters and "beyond a reasonable doubt" in criminal cases. Once a litigant meets his burden of proof, the burden shifts to the party opposing the evidence.' - Article


    But the proof I have of God is that I said so?

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    May 6, 2011 2:32 p.m.

    Ha, ha. This is the type of guy I love to go up against in court. He lacks a basic understanding of even simple logic and basic legal principles. For example, he states that "proponents of alternative marriage have no evidence that such arrangements are healthy for children or beneficial to society, yet they want government to "take their word for it." This demonstrates his lack of thought or understanding of the gay marriage debate and the legal rationales behind it. In California, the opponents to gay marriage had the "burden" of showing a rational basis for denying gays the right to marry. They were unable to meet even that lowest of constitutional scrutiny.

    With regard to God, it is almost embarrassing that a fellow lawyer is trying to suggest that non-believers have a burden of proving a negative, that God doesn't exist. By such logic all non-believers in Budda or Santa or the Flying Spaghetti monster have a burden to prove each doesn't exist. I mean, I can't believe there are people reading this that are taking his logic seriously.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    May 6, 2011 2:21 p.m.

    Re: Mormoncowboy | 9:02 a.m. May 6, 2011

    We don't need to ask a prophet to curse us when we can do the job for ourselves. The only thing the Savior cursed was a fig tree when he had the power to raise people from the dead.

    In Korihor's case he admitted when it was too late that "I always knew that there was a God".

  • John Lorz South Jordan, UT
    May 6, 2011 1:38 p.m.

    "With all its flaws and joys, marriage between a man and a woman has been tested in the crucible of time and experience and 'is essential to (Gods) eternal plan'"

    Great! And Mormons should live "their lives" according to this belief, if they so choose, but they should not enact laws to force this belief onto others.

    This is the reason we support a Constitution that attempts to protect each individual's "Pursuit of Happiness." We should not enact laws to limit that, except in the cases where it directly injures another...not "maybe injures another" or "I think god doesn't like it."

    People who have been persecuted by laws, as Mormons have, should be doubly sensitive to doing this to other people.

    "If you want to protect marriage, outlaw divorce" makes far more sense than enacting a law taking away another's rights because you find it "icky."

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    May 6, 2011 1:36 p.m.

    Just imagine how much better the world would be if all the preaching knowers (believers who think they know) were to manifest their desire for a better world with documentation of their own good works, rather than trying to tell others what God thinks or does. If God Is, then I imagine he knows what He is doing with out all the good folks telling Him how to do His job.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2011 1:14 p.m.

    I think Europe, Canada, and Massachusetts give sufficient evidence that gay marriage is not problematic.

  • jenrmc Fort Worth, TX
    May 6, 2011 10:29 a.m.

    In my opinion, believing in God can do damage to the dogmatic. The belief without reason and thought can damage a person because they cease to think and develop thoughts and instead rely on others to do the thinking for them. Add to that the fact that no one can go through life without disobeying a commandment or two and you can create a very negative, derogatory view of yourself based on all your "failings". Whatever opinions you form should be based on a thoughtful and diligent search of the many varying opinions and perspectives out for public debate. Once these opinions are formed you should be open to discussion of them in a civil, logical manner. The disconnect I find in many arguments by religious people is the lack of Christian patience and love when discussing differing viewpoints. I find very few instances of this when talking to non-religious people. I would like to say that I don't see that lack of Christian values in @Idaho Coug.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    May 6, 2011 10:28 a.m.

    It's interesting that religious people might think that they have a monopoly on morality and happiness. I guess I can understand why they might think that way. If you really believe that the leaders of your church are speaking with God then everything associated with your religion must be good, true, and right. Religion has the "truth" the whole "truth" and nothing but the "truth." I think thats why some religious people come across as arrogant when really they are just trying to be bold. Because you shouldn't have to sugar-coat the "truth."

  • sam1am Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2011 10:19 a.m.

    Let's pretend for a minute that Alma's logic was sound and that the earth and everything around us is irrefutable proof of god's existence (it's not, and if you tried to use that logic in court the judge would laugh at you). Why would it be evidence that your particular god was the right one? Why not believe in Zeus or Horus or Ptah or Shiva or any of the other countless possible gods?

    You can't just say "the earth exists, therefore [insert my belief] is true." I recommend the author backs up and checks Alma's logic again.

  • JonathanPDX Portland, Oregon
    May 6, 2011 10:10 a.m.

    I require no more proof than I already have that God exists. And I have no need to prove to others that He truly exists. My only responsibility is to be a doer of the Word and speak the truth as I understand it.

    If the observer or listener is truly seeking proof, the Spirit will speak to them to see and hear the truth in what I do or say.

    If they only seek to cause contention, then nothing I do or say or present to them as proof will make any difference, were God Himself to cause the sun to stand still, for their heart is hardened against the truth and light.

  • fooey Saint George, UT
    May 6, 2011 10:10 a.m.

    Wow, talk about a perfect example of the other side of Poe's law "..it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing."

    This article would be right at home on the Onion.

    Unfortunately, while it would be hilarious piece of parody, the fact that the author likely believes what he says, makes it depressingly frightening.

    It's truly amazing to see someone try to claim "the overwhelming evidence of God" with a straight face.

    Just to play devil's advocate, if there was ONE SINGLE IOTA of evidence for your God, it would no longer be faith.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    May 6, 2011 10:07 a.m.

    @Kimball
    That's a bit of a stretch to call this article uplifting, isn't it? The author is basically saying, "If you don't believe in God, you're pigheaded and doomed to suffer eternally in the afterlife."

    You ask why not just let people believe in God, lead happy lives, and make the world a better place. I reverse your question, why does the author direct an article at those that do not share his belief system. Also, given all the wars and destruction that has occurred because one group believes they act in the name of God puts the "make the world a better place" argument, at the very least, suspect.

    You prefer only to read articles that reassert your own point of view, to me that is exactly the problem with religion. If you can convince a people that anything you say is true, and any facts presented to the contrary are the tricky ways of Satan, you can convince them to do some pretty awful stuff.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    May 6, 2011 10:04 a.m.

    Cats - you are aware that 50,000+ LDS missionaries go into the world every year to invite people to accept another point of view? SLC leadership has encouraged members to be an online presence in doing the same. Many missionaries and online members are very strong and straightforward in their tone and comments - and that's okay. In other words, as LDS we certainly are NOT asked to "just go on our merry way and forget about it". Why should we expect others to?

    You also know that an online forum like this is for the purpose of inviting all kinds of different points of view, correct?

    I personally think that dialogue and debate is crucial. I love hearing all kinds of viewpoints. Honest questioning was not encouraged in most of our LDS correlated education so I do understand why we can be so defensive.

    It is the insular, defensive, inflexible nature of some LDS (and non-LDS) that bother me the most. You regularly display that from an LDS point of view. I have never read a comment of your's that wasn't along the lines of "great article, right on point, critics stink."

  • Chris Paul Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2011 9:48 a.m.

    @Cats, if the LDS Church is true, Glories still await even non-mormons. So what's the big deal? I would actually prefer not to become god-like because then I would avoid creating inevitable suffering for innocent animals and innocent children.

    I think people just like to give their opinion on things. Do you ever offer your view on Obama for example? If you disagree with him, why don't you just go on your merry way and not say anything?

  • Kimball Bakersfield, CA
    May 6, 2011 9:45 a.m.

    The ultimate proof will be when we stand before God to be judged. Korihor at least had an advantage over many naysayers in that he admitted he was wrong. Why do nonbelievers lie in wait with pithy, sarcastic, and negative comments as if that will change or help anyone? It won't be harmful to believe in God and try to make the world a better place where people have hope and happiness. How do your comments lead a person to a more fulfilled and happy life? Please don't respond, because I am decided and prefer to read uplifting, positive articles like the one the author offered. Why do you torture yourselves reading these positive articles if they upset you so much? I think you have some belief and hope. Admit it like Korihor. It isn't too late. Don't respond. Just think. I will not carry on a dialog with you because I'm tired of that.

  • Chris Paul Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2011 9:39 a.m.

    Even if we have no evidence either way, which assumption has more weight? The negative or positive? Is assuming that Santa does not exist equal to the assumption that he does exist?

    I think there are assumptions (i.e. leaps of faith) on both sides but I don't believe those leaps are of equal distance.

    The "god" concept is something that is outside what we can measure and test and is therefore an extraordinary claim. To assume that there is no god is easy to do (and logically preferable) if there is no evidence that there is a god at all.

    Some Mormons may posit testing the existence of a god by using the prayer method (Moroni 10:4, James 1:5, etc) but this is problematic because the data itself is subjective, never mind the subjectivity of the method. Where do I get the knowledge to rightly identify an authentic spirit emotion? How do I separate that from my other natural emotions? There seems to be a problem because many competing religions use the same method to produce radically different results.

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2011 9:32 a.m.

    Bro. Monahan states, Proponents of alternative marriage have no evidence that such arrangements are healthy for children or beneficial to society. Opponents of LDS polygamy 125 years ago said the same thing. Does allowing felons or people with genetic disorders like Taye-Sachs or Sickle-Cell that cause children untold pain and cost society millions to marry benefit society? Why the hypocrisy? Funeral Potatoes arent healthy for children or beneficial to society either.

    D&C 101:76-80 says America isnt about what is allegedly best for society. Its about individual rights and freedoms. 1 Cor. 10:29 and D&C 134:4 also decry using subjective morality to justify infringing upon others rights.

    Bro. Monahan offers no evidence that same-sex marriage harms kids or society. In Prop8s recent trial, only a few witnesses defended it. Their testimony was so easily refuted, that the Prop8 defense team has now filed a motion to keep the trials video recording sealed permanently. They dont want the evidence to be seen by the public. Why?

    Opposition to same-sex marriage is based on moral beliefs and is contrary to scripture and individual liberty.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 6, 2011 9:24 a.m.

    It is so funny how threatened these people feel by this article. It is also interesting how much time they spend reading articles like this so they can go on the attack. They are obviously very insecure in their positions no matter how much they claim otherwise.

    If they really believed they had won the argument they wouldn't have to spend all their time trying to disprove faith. They would just go on their merry way and forget about it. Obviously they can't do that. They have to keep convincing themselves. Because, let's face it. If it turns out that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, they have made a terrible mistake. They can't leave it alone or they might be found out.

  • tetsuo29 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2011 9:24 a.m.

    This essay about a caricatured debate completely glosses over whether chief judge Alma really present any evidence for the existence of a god or gods, but it almost certainly, and unwittingly presents a Book of Mormon anachronism- that some inhabitants of the Americas (whose DNA left no traces- but that's another topic entirely) in approx. 76 - 74 BC knew about and would make reference to the regular motions of the planets. This would have chief judge Alma having a scientific knowledge of something that would predate William Hershel's discovery of Uranus in 1781 by a few short years indeed. If only the Lamanites hadn't wiped out the Nephites and their advanced science.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    May 6, 2011 9:14 a.m.

    The author stated - "However, when public life affects religious conscience, opponents of faith will not accept their burden of proof. Despite the overwhelming evidence of God in their lives, naysayers reject proof of deity without a corresponding willingness to produce their own proof that God cant help us."

    I believe in God. But the above quote simply is incorrect. Thousands of pages have been written by agnostics and atheists making strong arguments for their point of view. Whether you believe their arguments does not change the fact that they exist.

    Again, I personally believe in God but always cringe at statements like those made by the author that are driven so strongly by his own worldview that it omits relevant facts.

    Given that the author quotes Book of Mormon characters to bolster his argument, I am going to make an assumption that he has not read any of the many books and articles put forward by those who do not believe in or doubt God. His worldview likely prohibits even looking at those types of materials.

    But the fact is that they exist and to say "naysayers" have not produced arguments for their positions is simply ignorant.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 6, 2011 9:02 a.m.

    If Korihor had been a real person he would have first responded to Alma's "evidence" by simply asking him to state "How do planets in their motion testify of God?" Merely stating it after all, doesn't make it right. He then would have asked for an explanation of the doctrine of agency, and then a recitation of the 11th article of faith (speaking of things to come as though they had already come - Mosiah 16:6). Following Alma's answer he would want an understanding of why he had been detained and imprisoned.

    On a more practical note, the story of Korihor works not because Alma offers any type of practical or real evidence to satisfy his burden of proof - particualary considering his request that Korihor prove a negative - but because Alma is granted the power to effect a miracle. I would invite anyone of these authors - Ash, Monahan, Card, even Thomas S. Monson, to show forth a real miracle like that alleged of Alma - by cursing me, even as Korihor.

  • IndependentLiberal Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2011 8:59 a.m.

    The bottom line in this article is actually quite sophomoric. It is a textbook example on the logical fallacy of adverse consequences. Every example was Be or Beware. Bill is simply preaching to the choir. Anyone other than a believing Mormon will find his argument weak!

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 6, 2011 8:55 a.m.

    Well, the deniers are out in force and desperately trying to defend their indefensible position. This is an excellent article and brings up many valid and profound points. The burden is on the deniers and they have nothing to defend their position.

    Proof of the existence of God is in EVERYTHING we see. It's amazing how someone can live in denial because of personal emotional problems. And...it is emotion and NOT logic that leads them to their conclusion.

    The experience of history teaches over and over again that adherence to God's laws brings blessings and breaking God's laws brings disaster. "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say. But, when ye do NOT what I saw, ye have no promise." IT'S THE TRUTH!

    God loves his children and blesses those who have faith and follow his teachings.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    May 6, 2011 8:00 a.m.

    This is an incredibly ironic argument. He says that people that don't believe in God (constantly labeling them as a unified group according to his preconceived stereotypes) cannot produce evidence that he doesn't exist. But what proof do you have that he does exist. The earth and its inhabitants? That is not proof, unless you already believe in him. That's like a criminal, when accused of stealing an iPod, says he found it on the street and then shows you the iPod as evidence. It's completely illogical. The author completely ignores that other people have what they believe to be the reasons for the existence of the earth and its inhabitants.

    There is no conclusive evidence that same-sex marriages will result in healthy homes, but all preliminary evidence points in that direction. To counter that, you're saying it's God's way. Where's the evidence, it seems you have none "but your word only."

  • nanniehu Wendover, UT
    May 6, 2011 7:53 a.m.

    What a thoughtful and well written article! @ jenrmc - The truth is simple, it is obvious though that people continue to refuse to see that truth and fallacy don't need to be complicated to be real. I've never heard anyone come up with a valid argument to prove there isn't a God. Yet all around us is evidence to prove there is.
    Societies fall because of corruption and lack of moral values. The burden of proof is upon those who say that immoral behavior is okay and doesn't hurt us as a society in the long run.

  • jenrmc Fort Worth, TX
    May 6, 2011 7:21 a.m.

    The fact that something has been done in the past is not proof against something different. Women didn't own land or vote for most of history yet when tried was found to be a viable option. Slavery existed for a "long" time in the American society before it was legally changed to an unlawful situation. The argument that something has been done for a while is like a child telling a parent that they can do something because all their friends are doing it. In this situation it has been tried in the past and accepted by the peer group as a true and correct principle but others looking on don't view it as such. This is a simplistic approach at explanation but I feel it serves to illustrate the fallacy of using the past as a support for not accepting change.

  • Gregory Johnson Rifle, CO
    May 6, 2011 7:09 a.m.

    I have met very few religious people with a conscious.

  • Main Street Plaza Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2011 7:02 a.m.

    Huh? I've read this three times now and can't make heads or tails of it.