Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Faith and family depend upon each other’

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Published: Wednesday, July 24 2013 8:32 p.m. MDT

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Tyler D
Meridian, ID

What’s the argument Dr. Peterson is making here? Is it simply, “the salvation of many souls — may well depend upon it?”

Not a very convincing argument for this secularist… and neither is the “constant population growth is our only remedy against societal collapse” nonsense.

EternalPerspective
Eldersburg, MD

The argument is family related trends have a direct correlation with the rise of secularism and corresponding religious decline in the world (particularly Christianity).

Secularism is not inherently evil nor are those who practice it any less loved by God than the faithful. Rather, beliefs influence life patterns impacted from the rise of a different ideology from the past, which grows to become the leading edge of mainstream culture and practices.

Secularism embraces belief of no absolute good or evil (independent of belief in God) and human intelligence controls destiny. Consequences for actions are relative and life centers upon maximizing worldly aspirations, accomplishments, and pleasures. It is not grounded in principle, but constant change as the catalyst for the human drive to become a greater worldly standard.

Secularism does inherently abandon some Christian and other religious teachings that self-control, moral principles, and faith in God help people to become better and improve constantly, despite whatever lot they are given in life. These things have been the backbone of individuals, families, and society and now they are in decline.

So, the article implicitly asks, what does Secularism substitute for religion and how does this trend affect society?

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

I believe the central tenant - that families and faith are mutually supportive - is correct. At least in those I have been close enough to observe.

Families bring both joy and stress. The momentous occasions that often cause us to readjust our views and to question the world and our purpose here. They also provide support and strength. Religious groups act as extended families.

within the LDS context, the goal of an eternal family also adds impetus to our own spiritual quest.

If the family is as important as LDS doctrine indicates, then the concept that God, family, and the individual are all mutually supportive is logical.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@EternalPerspective – “Secularism embraces belief of no absolute good or evil (independent of belief in God)”

Let’s not confuse Secularism with Moral Relativism.

There are plenty of ethical theories that posit objective morality that do not require a belief in God. In antiquity, the Buddha and Confucius come to mind as does Aristotle and the Stoics.

In the modern era we can look to Spinoza, Hume, Kant, JS Mill, and even the dubious Ayn Rand. And there are many more recent treatments of the subject – two worth reading are Michael Martin’s Atheism, Morality and Meaning and Sam Harris’ The Moral Landscape.

Humanistic objective morality is based on logic, reason and our evolved capacity for empathy, and is grounded in human well-being (and conversely, not causing meaningless suffering). In fact secular ethics can be more objective than some relativism we find in Biblical morality (e.g., slavery being perhaps the best example).

As to what Secularism offers in place of religion, we can simply look at northern Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, among others to see how it looks in practice.

fkratz
Portland, OR

Given the environmental crisis we face, measured population decline could save the planet and our species, but who knows? How many believe that we can continue to expand our population in the face of a declining energy and limited agricultural resource base, with economies pegged to continued expansion and growth? What will happen to our planet as third world nations consume as first world nations have? Imagine the planet's population explosion if every couple on earth was determined to grow a large family? Look at any historical world population chart and ponder this.

Scandinavian countries may see a decline in "traditional" families, but are still ranked highest on the the Inequality-adjusted HDI. If people can prosper without religion and by living outside tradition, then good. Hopefully this will spread within Islam.

Of course nearly 50% of American Christians believe Christ will return in the next 40 years, which doesn't really offer much confidence in a long term solution to the planet's ills by those that hold this view. I have no understanding of Islamic views on the survival of species or if it is even important but it should be.

A Scientist
Provo, UT

I find it fascinating, if not a bit hypocritical, when believers take it upon themselves to tell us what non-believers believe.

Believers cannot even agree over what they believe, much less understand and properly represent what a heterogenous, un affiliated collection of non-believers believe! And it is disingenuous, if not dishonest to attempt it!

A Scientist
Provo, UT

Yes, a correlation between religion and large families... Which may be a contributing factor in the overpopulation and high poverty levels in most third world countries. When people abandon reason for religion, they blindly "obey" religious leaders - who have a vested interest in building their power base and dominating areas by population, if not conversion - and have children they cannot provide for.

It is a bad strategic move for Peterson to "defend the faith" with such an argument as this. The data are actually arrayed against his point! Overall, and for most of recorded (rather than fabricated) human history, there has been an inverse relationship between religiosity and standards of living at the macro / country level. It does not take much looking to find the research on the subject.

coltakashi
Richland, WA

What Eberstadt points out is that the decline in religious participation and the decline in families with parents raising children are closely related. As one institution prospers, it will support the other; if one institution declines, it will weaken the other.

Anyone who thinks it may be possible to have actively religious believing and engaged believers in the absence of complete families is believing in a fiction.

Poverty, lack of education, and behavior that is hazardous to onesself and others all increase as families (of parents raising their own children) decline in number. And that decline in the number of children, future working adults, is going to have a direct impact on the ability of society to support the social safety net for the old, disabled, and poor.

For fifty years now, human societies around the world have been running a huge experiment to see the effects of abandoning traditional family structures. The results have not been positive.

sharrona
layton, UT

@Tyler D, the “traditional” family,

Honor your Father and Mother”[not significant Other],which is the first commandment with a promise. God distinguishes father and mother from all other persons on earth, chooses them and sets them next to Himself, occupying the highest place in our lives next to God. Eph 6:2,3.

RE: EternalPerspective, Secularism is not inherently evil nor are those who practice it any less loved by God than the faithful?
Psalm 51:5 "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." Eph 2:2 all people who are not in Christ are *"sons of disobedience." V. 3, we are all "by nature children of wrath." If we are all "by nature children of wrath," because we are all by nature sinners. God does not direct His wrath towards those who are not guilty. God did not create the human race sinful. But we fell into sin and became sinful due to the sin of Adam.

But as many as received him, to them gave power(authority) to become the *“sons of God”, even to them that believe on his name: (John 1:12)

G L W8
SPRINGVILLE, UT

We have scientists which quote the "facts" of science, historians who quote the "facts" of history, theologians who quote scripture--everyone is an "expert" in a specific field. Why don't we look at the broader picture? No one man nor woman has all the answers. Mankind, with all his intelligence, is not infallible.
Why were man and woman created in the first place, and man not designed to be asexual? Why have humans used the practice of organizing families and not just "breeding like the animals?" Seems to me there are some deeper questions to ask than what's being discussed in these comments. Dr. Peterson asks a critical one: what happens when the family deteriorates. We need closer examination, not dismissal of the question by use of shaky pseudo-demographic "data".

Jeff
Temple City, CA

The cry to limit population strikes me as selfish and short sighted. Why is it associated with the cry to limit religion?

Dr. Petersen's two-pointed argument in favor of religion and family is far-sighted and unselfish.

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