Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Did Aesop's ant or his grasshopper lead the better life?’

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Published: Thursday, April 24 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Thid Barker
Victor, ID

Great Article Dr. Peterson. Thank you for writing it! I am a believer because I know that all I experience, all I learn and all I love in my life belongs to me forever. I can not comprehend the opposite, and I can not think of anything more despairing to believe that everything I see and experience means nothing. Because if it doesn't last, it means nothing and therefore, I lived and will die for no reason.

sandy, ut

As usual, Dr. Petersen writes as if not knowing what is on the other side is bad. Nobody knows what happens when we die. Sure we all have beliefs, but nobody knows. Because we don't know, it is logical to say that you don't know that life after death exists. Nobody alive can know what happens after death.

Hayden, ID

@ Brahma. God knows what is on the other side and He has revealed it many times to his Prophets. One can believe those revelations or.... not. If the Prophets are wrong, what did believers lose for believing? On the other hand if the Prophets are true, what does a believer gain? I chose to believe because the advantages are greatly in my favor by doing so.

Roanoke, VA

@Brahmabull ... I disagree. Even dismissing everything we've been taught about the tenets and behavioral requirements of Christianity - just chucking the whole package - still we are forced to conclude (if we are honest) that SOMETHING happened to the 11 to radically change their behavior and conduct after their teacher's arrest and execution. (And, please, let's reject the Jim Jones analogy.) The 11 demonstrated their sanity at His arrest, dispersing and going undercover for their own safety.

Yet something happened. They regrouped, dedicated their lives to Him, and walked to a horrible death with eyes wide open.

That kind of behavioral 180 screams of authenticity.

The point being, those of us who accept their testimony are then directed to learn what He taught, and it is there that we find hints of what happens after this life. Now I agree with you that we don't know much about it all - about the next life - but I think we have adequate information to know we should prepare for it, in accordance with His instructions.

sandy, ut

Mountanman, Moontan

Do you recall incidents of cult followers who KNEW with everything in them what awaited them if they committed mass suicide? There are numerous cases of this happening. People can easily be persuaded to think that they KNOW what is going to happen. This is not a reliable source to go off of. People can believe what they want, but nobody knows. You can claim that the prophets know, yet I have never heard any of them give detailed descriptions of the afterlife. The descriptions that I have heard are very vague. Even so, how can anybody verify that what they are saying is true? It could be their personal belief, and that is most likely the case. They may very well believe it, but it doesn't mean that it is true. We have no idea what happens after death. anybody can make any claim as to what happens when we die, because there is no method or means of verification. Until somebody dies they won't know whether it was true or not. Believers don't lose anything by believing, but neither do non believers for not.

Roanoke, VA

@Brahmabull ... No, I cannot. I cannot recall one other instance where sane students of a remarkable teacher lost their teacher to execution, and dispersed fearing for their lives - which of course demonstrates a desire to live not do group suicide - and then, later, regrouped and willingly endured not mass suicide but severe persecution and murder ... because they said they met their teacher risen from death. And, from that, changed the course of civilization.

I can't recall one other example.

And I think we can all agree that comparisons to Jim Jones' people, and others such as Heaven's Gate ... is comparing apples to elephants.

Hayden, ID

Being ordered to commit mass suicide should have been their first clue. Non believers do lose, they lose faith. Faith is a wonderful thing to possess, as Dr. Peterson's article so eloquently points out. If you want "proof", you will be disappointed, rather is it required of us to develop faith. Faith is defined scripturally as "evidences of things unseen that are true." The problem non-believers have is failure to observe. Absence of evidence for non-believers is not evidence of absence for believers. Just because some fail to observe the vast evidences for the existence of God and His promises, doesn't mean millions of other have not observed.

clearfield, UT

From my own life experience I can assure you that religious belief systems are freeing in life. In the NT,is a Paul scripture that ........the truth shall set you free. I have seen far too many people who are not free because of addiction problems due to alcohol, drug, or tobacco. Some of these people have had to endure illness from use of these things. Some have had to spend money defending themselves in court on a DUI. Some have even gone to prison because of their use. Some have had accidents that have cost life and limb. Some have lost families and jobs due to use of these substances. And if nothing else, all the money spent on said substances. Wasted. Yes, I sure am much more free, and therefore happy in life, by not going through the problems many of these substances can cause. In my particular church, we call it the "Word of Wisdom". Which I can testify is a truth that shall set you free.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@Mountanman – “If the Prophets are wrong, what did believers lose for believing? On the other hand if the Prophets are true, what does a believer gain?

In the eloquent words of that Fox channel sage of wisdom, Homer Simpson – “what if we chose the wrong religion? Each week we just make God madder and madder.”

@Mountanman – “Faith is a wonderful thing to possess, as Dr. Peterson's article so eloquently points out. If you want "proof", you will be disappointed.”

I’m with you on this though… which makes one wonder why religious people expend so much energy on trying the prove their beliefs?

1.96 Standard Deviations


Yes, we know with certainty there is more after death. How do we know? It starts with Jesus Christ since he resurrected from the dead and showed himself to thousands of witnesses, who cover both hemispheres of the planet. Christ ate in front of others and allowed people to feel his tangible, resurrected body.

The resurrected Christ has also made himself known to numerous individuals in modern days. Joseph Smith and Lorenzo Snow are two examples. Not to mention even more, like those who have received a burning witness and knowledge given by the power of the Holy Ghost that Christ is resurrected (such as myself). Since Christ is resurrected, we know there is life after death.

There are various accounts of livings individuals who have been visited by family members or others from the other side of the veil, usually in association with temple work. One prominent example is when, in 1877, the founding fathers and other eminent men/women appeared in vision to Wilford Woodruff, president of the St. George Temple at that time, for the purpose of completing their temple work.

In sum, life is not over when we are dead -- no doubt about it.

Brian Westley
St. Paul, MN

Going by the ant and grasshopper story as told in this article, I like the grasshopper much better; he may have been foolish, but it looks like the ant has decided to let him starve to death instead of giving him some food. And we're supposed to admire the ant?

Let it Go!
Omaha, NE

I just read the first few comments and I need to say this:

There is a significant difference between believing and knowing something. Knowing implies that your information has concrete evidence that you can touch, see, or hear. Believing implies that your information has abstract evidence. Everyone seems to think that this is final and immovable.

But this is not the case.

Is it possible to know of something that you don't have concrete evidence for? Is it the seeing that makes it true or is it the feelings that come with seeing? Do you need someone to come back from the dead to believe, or rather know, that the afterlife is real? Or, for the matter, do you need a loved one to die for your confirmation? Or anybody?

The scriptures are before you. I bet they have evidence enough that there is such a person who came back from the dead. And He was not alone when that happened. Others came forth from the grave and appeared unto many.

1.96 Standard Deviations

Brian Westley:

The ant didn't let the grasshopper starve. The grasshopper let himself starve. Helaman 14:30:

"30 And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free."

There's also the Bible story of the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom -- 5 wise and 5 foolish. The 5 wise virgins had their lamps full of oil, but did not have enough to give the to 5 foolish virgins. Those 5 foolish were later locked out of the festivities. This ant was like the 5 wise virgins, and the grasshopper was like the 5 foolish.

If the ant was just like the grasshopper, they'd both be starving. What's to admire in the that?

Hayden, ID

Tyler D. ..."which makes one wonder why religious people expend so much energy on trying the prove their beliefs." On more than one occasion you have offered thoughtful replies, intelligent responses to my comments even when you have disagreed and I thank you for that.
I would simply respond to your comment above that it might be because so many others spend so much time and energy trying to disprove other's faith. It might be self defense. What can be said of a man's faith that he will not defend?

Church member
North Salt Lake, UT

I don't know what will happen when I die. I don't think anyone really knows for sure. I understand that a major part of religion is to tell its people that they will live in mansions for eternity with their families, they tell them that because it is what people want to hear. It is comforting. Helps them sleep at night.

If there is an afterlife then that will be great. If there is not an afterlife we will not know there is not an afterlife. We will just cease to exist. Either way it does not sadden me. This life is amazing. We are lucky to have the time here that we do. If this is all there is then it is good enough for me. It is not a sad feeling but a grateful feeling to have lived at all.

I am going to be the best person I can be (I'm not LDS) and either way I am safe when I die. I don't understand grown-ups who can't deal with the thought that this might be all there is.

sandy, ut

1.96 Standard Deviations

In other words... You know there is an afterlife based on the words and other experiences of other people?? Doesn't that seem a little strange that your whole belief system on the subject is based on the words of other people?

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@Mountanman – “It might be self defense”

OK, thanks for your thoughtful comments as well.

And point taken re: above quote… probably explains a great deal of the rancor in our public discourse these days, don’t you think?

I argue pretty strongly on this forum, sometimes to make a point about my own views, but more often than not because someone else is trying to make a point with poor reasoning. That said, I feel fairly confident in the goodness of people in general and that even people I disagree with the most would make good neighbors and, depending on shared interests, even good friends.

@Church member – “If there is not an afterlife we will not know there is not an afterlife. We will just cease to exist. Either way it does not sadden me.”

Completely agree!

I don’t understand how the idea of no afterlife (at least where you’re personality lives on) makes people sad. Enjoy this life here and now.

Your motivation for living a good life? To insure those coming after you have the same opportunities to flourish. This should be its own reward…

1.96 Standard Deviations


I personally know there is an afterlife because I have certainty Christ resurrected from the dead. There's no greater witness than from God. I can thank the words of others, like that of the prophets in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, for getting me to search, ponder and pray about the subject. After the trial of our faith, the witness of the Holy Ghost can come. Don't doubt the power or existence of the Holy Ghost. It gives more sure knowledge than any other way devised by man.

the truth
Holladay, UT

Peterson writes: "Thus, that message board atheist would serve his readers better if he advised them to work toward developing religious faith rather than encouraging them to abandon it."

The only reason nonbelievers don't it is because misery loves company.

Homer simpson is wrong about one thing. God doesn't get madder and madder,

God get's more disappointed. He gave us the truth and agency and continues to do so.

But people would rather lean on the own understanding or other men's philosophies and wanting to control coerce others into following them and force others to follow their views or what is right and good. Or they would rather pursuing meaningless and temporary things, and fleeting pleasures, and what they believe are easier and more pleasurable paths. Some people just do not want to expend the effort.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

The author mistakenly equates "valuing life" and "happiness," but one can be happy while taking life for granted, and one can value life yet be unhappy for many reasons.

Religion robs life of value and enjoyment when it teaches people to look upon themselves as "broken" and "sinful." It can encourage harmful suppression of natural thoughts and feelings, particularly surrounding sex, and it often teaches self-castigation and distrust rather than self-worth and self-acceptance.

It can also be an excuse for not addressing problems. Ever heard, "Well, they'll get theirs in the end" or "God has a special place for people like that"? No need to try to address the problem while we're here. The man upstairs will take care of it.

But it's the issue of abortion where I see most disturbingly the devaluing of life. Those who claim to be pro-life will look past, over, or through the LIVING woman (or girl) right in front of them and think only of the POTENTIAL life within her. (Think IUDs and the morning after pill.) Isn’t this valuing a possible tomorrow over a very real today?

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