The Crazy Logic of Belief

Imagine for a moment that you are a backyard scientist and you are running an experiment on gravity. Your hypothesis presumes that a roll of quarters will fall faster than a marble. Your logical reasoning for this happening is because the roll of quarters is heavier by about 10 times than the marble.

You set up the experiment and discover they fall at exactly the same rate. What do you do? Do you realize your hypothesis is false? Or do you come up with a reason for why the data didn’t match your prediction?

If you are a bit of a science history nut, you will recognize this as a popularized experiment where Galileo proved the previous ideas about gravity wrong. It was a big enough deal for the progress of experimentation and scientific method that astronauts even repeated the experiment on the moon.

Now given the hammer and feather example in the video you can see how it might seem like lighter objects fall slower than heavy ones, a result that also happens to make sense and be a little more intuitive. Changing the object shape but not changing the weight produces a very different result as also seen in the video. So what gives?

Well these days it’s all pretty well known, the difference is air. Gravity without any air resistance pulls on all objects with a constant acceleration.1 Since air can get in the way and mess with the results so much. It turns out in your backyard experiment it is quite possible you could totally miss the underlying law of falling objects. Especially the result showing that without air getting in the way a hammer and a feather fall at exactly the same rate.

This happens because it is counter-intuitive. A person having dropped a lot of feathers expects them to fall slower than a hammer. Their experience builds up an expectation that is not representative of the core reality. But sometimes our intuition is wrong.

Intuition is not necessarily a rational process, it’s something that is trained by repeated observation. It’s often very useful because we can quickly jump to a conclusion when needed. That very skill helped our ancestors not get eaten by tigers when they noticed that rustling grass meant there were bad things sneaking up on them. The guy that took time to logically deduce if it really was a tiger typically ended up as lunch though. So we didn’t get as healthy a dose of his genes.

My point isn’t to say intuition is a bad thing. Just that sometimes it can be wrong.2 That’s why sometimes results are counter intuitive.

Say for example you and a friend were debating this falling object phenomena and he insisted that the weight of the object was related to the speed at which if fell. He kept pointing at the feather and the hammer results to confirm his point.

You try to show him a result using a bouncing ball and a cannon ball and he dismisses your example out of hand, even refuses to run his own test because he has already ran the hammer and feather test and ‘knowns’ without a shadow of doubt the feather falls slower. 

When you get him to discuss it he comes up with a theory that your balls are shaped such that air pushes down harder on the bouncy ball making it catch up to the cannon ball. He even produces complex equations that explain your result and allow him to keep believing that lighter objects fall slower.

What gives? Is it possible that someone would be so stubborn to not let go of their intuitive understanding and accept a new idea, in this case the law of gravity?

To us it seems silly right? Yet exactly this kind of bizarre reasoning, justifying ones own belief happens all the time when it comes to religious discussions. 3

The fundamental logical flaw that occurs when a person takes the apologetic route for justifying their beliefs is simple, they don’t weigh evidence the same. Evidence that supports belief gets all sorts of rationalizations while the same kind of evidence that would negate the validity of their belief is dissmissed out of hand.

This is a human flaw that knows no bounds of intelligence or education, in fact in a lot of cases a smart person is quite capable of coming up with such complex reasoning that you can hardly follow it. The great Randi points out in this clip its precisely because of their education smart people are sometimes the easiest to fool.

All this came to mind as I recently debated the historicity of the Book of Mormon with several LDS apologists. Their best proffered evidence of authenticity was the NHM = Nahom idea. Proving that Nephi’s bountiful is a really place in the old world was the best actual proof for the book.

Ignore the fact that things like smelted steel, swords, elephants, coins, chariots, horses and even DNA, are completely lacking in the new world… Oh, look over there! It’s is a place that shares 3 letters and some grass and trees in the description! That MUST be proof!

I pointed out to these guys the Vern Holley maps that were part of what collapsed my own shelf. They dismissed by my evidence out of hand just like the gravity example above.

The 30+ correlations with names from that area and time meant nothing to them. I had spent a bunch of time digging through old geography maps to make sure they names were there so I knew they existed in the past and I said as much. But the apologists still insisted it was a meaningless correlation.

Why did they mean nothing you ask? (Because I did ask.) We’ll geez you know just because some letters match up with other words it just isn’t proof!

Really? Like NHM = Nahom? I postulated. That lead to them accusing me of  being a horrible anti-mormon. The idea that I would challenge their expertise showed my lack of knowledge and or intellect. Then they ejected me from their group.

Later, following up on some of the references presented by these guys. I found some more of the arguments promoting the idea that Vern Holley correlation is meaningless. Here are a few:

  • These names are only 11% of the BoM. (using the same calculation the NHM = Nahom correlation is 0.2%) Are you starting to see what I mean about not weighing the evidence equally?
  • These places don’t show up in a google search as existing back in the 1800’s. Seriously, that is fundamentally the point of this guy on the topic. You’d think a PHD in physics would realize that the internet wasn’t a thing back then! Seems obvious to me that not ALL the worlds information is on the web, you might need to go beyond Google. ūüôā 4
  • Not all the names match up so therefore none of it is valid. Are you willing to reject your entire NHM = Nahom theory out on a single failure or mistake?

It becomes pretty apparent, pretty fast that we humans are far more likely to confirm our bias than we are to willing to challenge the status quo.

My point in this post to the Fridge door today… I’m not really sure. The more I think about it just doesn’t seem all that effective to try and teach critical thinking post commitment. People need a reason to change their mind about something, an emotional one for the most part. 

You just can’t logic someone out of a crazy belief. Trust me, they will just come up with crazier logic that makes complete sense to them. I honestly doubt I seriously affected the apologists position with my reasoning at all.
So maybe this post is for the select few that think its worth looking behind the curtain to see what Oz really is. There has to be a half a dozen or so of you out there right?

  1. Technically a mutual force that includes both bodies mass but since the earth is so much bigger percentage-wise it’s mass is all that matters, even more technically there are some more effects that show up with more mass that are explained via Einsteins work.
  2. Side note; if you want to be a particularly effective problem solver, use experimentation to repeat known counter intuitive results. By doing it you can effectively retrain your intuition to more accurately depict reality. That is a hugely useful skill in any complex field. I personally did it in electronics, my chosen profession, and it repeatedly helps me solve problems quickly and accurately. A very employable skill!
  3. I don’t think it is a small coincidence that the Fridge inspired me to use Galileo’s example for this post, after all the guys that tried to prove him wrong were none other than the Catholic church itself.
  4. But a lot is if you dig deep enough. There are some really old maps of the area that have been scanned into the system that  can be searched out and looked up to find the existence of them. It’s just a huge pain in the ass, took me several days of eyeballing old maps on my own. Drop me a line if you want me to point you to them.

Stealing Christmas

Christmas is a great holiday. It’s a time when much of the western world gets uptight about the latest Starbucks cup. It’s a time when you get judged by the number of lights on your house. The time of year when snow flies and baby it’s cold outside.

I love Christmas time. In fact it’s one of the reasons I came up with this blog. From a secular perspective I see this holiday as a religion that has been defanged by crowds that love the idea of Santa and spreading genuine care to others.

It’s probably the most powerful example of a myth’s power (treated as a myth outright) to effect change in our behavior.

We look for that perfect gift for someone we love. We think more than normal about the poor and needy among us. Charity is rampant and generosity is common. Stories of Santa Clause fill the airwaves as everyone indulges in a little make believe.

Religions do the same thing. They engage in make believe. But it comes with a price, dogma. Antiquated ideas, like the cursing of black people or the sin of being homosexual live a life far longer that they should as human morality matures beyond stoning people for working on a Sunday.

Dogma even causes people to get wound up about loosing the ‘true meaning’ of Christmas. They actually get annoyed at those who are buying gifts for others and not being Jesus-y enough about it. Think about that. Here are people being generous and thoughtful without their particular faith involved in the process and somehow that makes it a bad thing.

Why you ask? Because you can’t steal all those good things from Christmas!!! Hell, those heathens even use the letter X in place of Christ in the name! (Please ignore the fact that the letter X represents the cross so you can be properly pissed off!)

But here’s the thing. Just a little research and you find out that Jesus had already stolen Christmas from the pagans before them. The celebration of winter solstice and the dawning of a new year when things would get warm again was a pretty big deal for humans surviving the last ice age!

Like Windows interface was stolen from Apple… who stole the idea from Xerox, good ideas survive because great artists steal the best ideas to work from.

Christmas is a stolen idea of new beginnings with a sprinkle of sacrifice added to the mix. Gift giving symbolizes that process and reminds us to be more generous to our fellow beings on the planet.

I think that same transition is happening now as Christmas is celebrated by millions that have no belief in deity at all. They are discovering that you can still be generous and kind, that you can have a community without shared dogma. A place that is truly inclusive because there is no doctrinal tribal exclusion.

Yes Christmas is being stolen again. ¬†All that’s left is to do is what the last guys that stole it did.

Rebrand it.

Merry Fridgemas everybody!!

May your holidays be cool and bright!

Angry Mormon Atheists Must Hate God

So recently I have been debating more than a few theists, Why? Because duh… I must be angry!1

I mean this Mormon religion must have not only pissed me off at the LDS church, clearly it caused me to hate God now as well. Why am I told I hate God? Because I just don’t believe in him. (Apparently the Fridge doesn’t count)

So I did a little research, and it seemed to me articles on this topic are far more common among the religious bloggers. They feel a need to explain why so few Mormons land in a different religion and simply embrace non-belief as the correct title for their religious views.

Given that lack of information available to others for my point of view. I figured I’d pen some of the reasons that led me to consider a Fridge God every bit as valid as say Jehovah, Zeus or Allah.

fool

1. Critical thinking is hard to turn off.
If you were a devout LDS person, like most post mormon atheists I know, you had to figure out how you were fooled into believing you knew it was ‘The-one-true-church-on-the-face-of-the-earth-in-the-name-of-jesus-christ-amen.’¬†This required critical thinking, it also required understanding of the cognitive failings us humans have and exactly how you could be caught in such an illusion. Ask any post mormon, and 90% plus can tell you what confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance are and how they affected their beliefs.

2. Revaluation of all your presumptions is normal.
When you realized that you were mistaken about something you were so sure about you naturally question the foundation of all things you take for granted. Fact is, culturally in the US where most of these post Mormons come from there is a major presumption that God is real. Particular the Christian version of God. When you hold up the same lens of critical evaluation to these presumptions they¬†just don’t hold up.

3. If you were a devout Mormon you already believed in the apostasy of other religions.
You could see how other people could be tricked by their desires to believe. You just hadn’t ever applied it to yourself.

4. As an LDS faithful you were encouraged to seek learning.
Knowledge is essential to progression in the LDS faith. This leads to taking all scientific things off the shelf that your religion caused you to place there to keep believing. Many of these elements were biblically orient, creation, flood, evolution, age of the earth and so on. They directly conflicted with scientific knowledge as a faithful LDS. But you set them aside as ‘some day we will understand it all and how it all makes sense...’¬†Being untethered from a faith it allows you to examine others and see them full of all the same faults.

And apparently to the faithful (especially the non-LDS Christian ones) all this adds up to ‘hating god‘. But that makes so little sense. Did God fool me into believing in Mormonism? Thus making me ‘hate him’? Clearly not if you believe God only tells you the truth at all times.

I think the reason the term ‘hate’ is used is really simple. God is us. The voice of god you hear is you, and it always has been. Deep down subconsciously we all know this. Even as we profess otherwise. Think about it for a minute. If you dismiss the idea of God and saw you don’t believe he’s real. It’s like you are telling the believer you don’t think they are real. That would feel pretty hateful to them. Now take it a step further. If you were fooled by your own feelings into thinking a particular religion was true only to later find out it was false. You might be mad at yourself. And to the believer yourself is subconsciously ‘God’. If they put themselves in your shoes they would hate themselves for being fooled. Which when it hits their conscious awareness becomes ‘hating God’.

I personally would like to settle this for once and all. LDS people gone atheist don’t hate God. They don’t hate the easter bunny either. For a while we might be a tad upset with ourselves for being bamboozled, but it passes. ¬†Once you realize how you were fooled, the way each of us psychologically creates our own personal deity becomes crystal clear.

If you lost your religion the way I did. By realizing they are all man made and figuring out how you fell for it. This is what leads to atheism. It’s not hate, but knowledge that does it. A better understanding of humanity, history and psychology leads to a coherent picture of religion and its effects on the world and people around you.

From that vantage point, it all looks made up. None of the typical Gods described by the vast majority of religions make any sort of sense, not even remotely when you analyze it. Then after some more study of the words agnostic and atheism you finally realize exactly what describes you best now that you aren’t constantly redefining words to make your ideology make sense.

 

Fridgism = Atheism, just with more jokes and a less cynical outlook on the value of faith and belief and how the mythologies of the world at large. At least thats how my personal truth fits it all together! ūüôā

 

  1. This is sarcasm for those of you that are deficient in that blessing of the Fridge ūüėČ

The Real Mormon Mafia

 

So #mormonmafia became a thing this week as our country is nearing the end of an election cycle like none other. More than ever before it’s becoming obvious that we humans tend to make our choices emotionally and rationalize them logically.

This particular hashtag has taken on a life of it’s own especially among those sympathetic to the faith. Better watch out or the #mormonmafia might show up and mow your lawn in white shirts and ties. They might bring you a jello salad and invite you to church of all things! Take a look at¬†the¬†twitter feed¬†for more funny quips.

However, under the light hearted fun of it all, I think it might come as a surprise to most Mormon’s. (Especially the super nice ones out there mowing your lawn.) That there is a kernel of truth to the mafia tag that recently made headlines.

To understand we need to go back in history to the foundation of the LDS church. To a political movement called the Council of Fifty.

 

 

This organization formed by Joseph Smith was supposed to become Christ’s government on earth. They very much considered the return of Jesus to be imminent at the time. Here’s some words from BYU on this because I’m pretty sure the average Mormon is saying, ‘No way!’ right about now:

The Church already had a well-developed apocalyptic outlook, including belief in the latter-day collapse of existing governments before Christ’s return. In this framework, the Council of Fifty was viewed as the seed of a new political order that would rule, under Christ, following the prophesied cataclysmic events of the last days. (source)

The Council of Fifty was¬†supposed to¬†get Joseph Smith elected president of the USA. I think it’s kind of ironic1 that this #mormonmafia hashtag coincides with another guy vying for election that like old Joe uses his position of power and prestige to get the ladies to do his bidding. I will say this for Trump though, He seems to at least steer clear of the 14 year olds… sorry, I mean¬†nearly 15 year olds.

Some other interesting things about the Council of Fifty:

  • It ordained Joseph to become King of the earth. On 11 April 1844, the council voted to receive JS as ‚Äúour Prophet, Priest & King.”
  • It excommunicated William Law after he balked at practicing polygamy and had issues with Joseph’s efforts to combine church and state.
  • It threatened members with death if they were to reveal the secret council to others.

This council was VERY active in the days leading up to the death of the prophet. They even gave instructions to the Danites to remove political enemies of the church by any means necessary.

The main goal of this council in 1844 was to establish a theocracy in the United States.2 Think about that for a minute and what the state of the Union was back then. The constitution of 1776 guaranteed the separation of church and state. The first amendment (right to free speech) and the 4th amendment (protecting against search and seizure of personal property) were ratified in 1791.

Then along comes Joseph Smith, setting up the city state of Nauvoo, creating a¬†nascent theocracy and crowning himself King. He goes on to lie about his polygamy¬†to the saints while at the same time vilifying William Law for exposing it.3 A few days later as mayor of Nauvoo, he orders the destruction of the¬†Nauvoo Expositor, William’s newspaper.

Yep that’s right Joseph; recently ordained King of God’s new theocracy on earth, general of the Mormon armed forces and Mayor of Navuoo ordered a printing press destroyed for telling the truth about his ‘carefully worded denial’ of polygamy. He was running for president, he had secretly made himself King and he ordered the destruction of private property for exposing his deception. Let that settle in for a minute… Just think about that…

 

The people of this era had recently founded a country with a constitution explicitly preventing a new theocracy from rising. Parents and Grandparents of this generation had fought and died to protect against theocracy, against unwarranted seizure of property and against a government that might destroy their freedom of the press. This history of Joe Smith all happened less than a month before a mob overran a jail and killed him. Had he not clearly shown his disregard for these deeply held rights of a recently born nation of freedom?

This election cycle wether you are voting for Trump or Hillary consider for a moment how you’d react if one of them had just ordered a printing press destroyed. Assume it had just printed an article about what’s really in those emails. Consider the destruction of news station cameras a week after posting footage of some nasty comments about women. Then you might be able to see how the outsiders at the time viewed the Mormon faith of 1844.

What if Hillary or Trump followers considered them to be the King of the last days prepared to take their place at the head of our nation? Is it that hard to understand why a mob might form in this situation? How a group of people could be concerned about a theocracy over taking the free nation they had just established? How they might feel like a need to take matters into their own hands?4

For me this shed some new light on core concepts that have been around since the LDS church was founded. Sure these days we are told the Council of Fifty doesn’t exist anymore. But something called the SCMC certainly does. Sure the church claims to have no political ambitions anymore. And yet they broke the law in funding proposition 8 in California. Sure they say every member chooses politics for themselves, but recently leaked videos show how important it is to them to have¬†‘church broke’ LDS faithful in government positions.

And finally, anyone that has been exposed to the LDS temple knows¬†every stalwart member of the religion takes an oath. They promise to give everything the have to build up of the kingdom of God on earth. Meaning specifically the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sure, these days it isn’t a death oath in the temple like it was pre 1990. But it is an oath none the less. This faith at its very core believes it will save the nation by taking it over in the last days. It has all along, ever since the Council of Fifty.

So amidst all the giggles about the Mormon Mafia taking you out with green jello and cheese salad. Try to consider some of the legitimate fear a non-mormon feels about this institution getting too much power.

  1. Always remember irony is a sign of enlightenment from the Fridge!
  2. JS specifically called it a theo-democracy, a kind of a hybrid church and state if you will. If you look at the sustaining vote in today’s LDS church though you can see how ineffective a dissenting opinion is in practice.¬†Plus reading¬†through the bylaws of the council you discover a dissenting member of the Co50 is essentially ejected from the committee.

    Personally I can’t see any legitimate democracy in this theocracy. Feel free to disagree in the comments though, I will just pretend you didn’t :).

  3. Not long before that William was the second elder of the church. It would be like Monson calling Erying liar in general conference. History of the Church Vol. 6, p. 408-412
  4. Don’t forget that Joseph had been in jail several times and had also started a fraudulent bank called the Kirtland Safety Society. Non believers would trust him about as much as a republican trusts Hillary given the background.

Tribal Loyalty 

So today I had an epiphany. Well actually it was a few days ago, today I figured out how to write it down.

Our human default wiring is set to “tribal loyalty.”

That means we tend to cherish those of our own tribe more and those that aren’t part of it not so much.

I have even noted that those that break ranks with the tribe are often most vilified because of this natural default setting.

This came to me after a discussion with a friend. He was very upset by poor Chinese people willing to work for less money just to put rice on the table and thus steal the job from a poor American with a Fridge and a cell phone. Clearly America is in his tribe.

I personally only see poor people in these two groups now, some clearly worse off than others. It dawned on me I have been going to China a LOT lately for work. I realized by getting to know them and their families and their lives that my ‘tribe’ was now bigger than it used to be.

So moral of the story?

-> Try to expand your tribe <-

Get to know someone you wouldn’t normally know. It leads to great epiphanies and just might change that natural default setting a notch or two!

Where We Went

Where will you go? The question posed to LDS faithful this last general conference that has caught fire as a meme among the not so faithful. Last time I saw this type of response in the post Mormon world was the doubt your doubts quip¬†that put this obscure blog on the map which I’m sure played no small part in it getting a¬†Brodie Award.

A couple of years ago I would have listened to conference with bated breath and pounded out a response the next day to such blatant misinformation in the particular talk that spouted this idea.

But that’s just not the case anymore, and I think that’s relevant. Because I did go away. I left the faith. Sure it was hard not to look back for a long time. But it is getting easier and easier every day. 1


Turns out that a life without even a belief in God suits me. I feel free to use my own mind. I don’t need to check my conclusions against ‘revealed truth’ to make sure it fits because there is no such thing. All there is are human’s proposing human concepts, some of them right and some wrong.

These days I don’t even listen to conference, I blog less on the things wrong with the faith and more on how we can become better people. I still keep touch with my fellow Post-Mormon peeps though. You¬†can’t just hang up a 5th generation Mormon hat, especially when you are the only heathen in your family not wearing it.

So perusing a few reddit posts in that effort led to this thought from the Fridge. I think Elder Ballard is asking the wrong question to the wrong people. I honestly think his reasons for leaving the church are all he understands. Let me explain.

We know for a fact that these men live in an isolated mecca far from the average person. They are¬†briefed¬†on what is happening in the world by self proclaimed ‘yes men.’¬†Guys who call themselves¬†‘church broke’¬†2 due to¬†their¬†subservient nature.

Ponderizing this while reading TBM FB comments about the Zelph on the Shelf post¬†I had an epiphany. These leaders don’t talk to apostates that have never returned to the fold!

I think they have only heard from people that left and returned,¬†which is a very small subset of those that leave. Bear with me on this. Because I have also known people that quit attending church and then returned. And guess what….

Those guys do leave for the reasons stated by church leaders!

  • They feel offended by someone, run away, resolve it and come back.
  • They sin and feel guilty about it for years, not worthy of being in church. But one day they make a choice to return¬†to welcoming, open arms.
  • They just aren’t good with the high levels of commitment the church requires and slack away at it until one day they stop being inactive and go back to the fold.
  • The never really understood the faith nor gained a testimony to begin with, but now they have one and returned.
  • They think they were deceived by lies but now feel they know the truth and have returned.

The common element? The people in these five categories all came back. If the only people you ever talk to about their experience in the church are people that go to church. You are missing out on a huge group of people that have left.  (well over two-thirds of convert baptisms!)

If your filter to the what is happening to the religion you guide is coming only from church-broke-yes-men and repentant faithful you will miss a huge part of the story. If you want to know what is happening and why tithing income and attendance numbers are falling across the board you are asking the wrong people ‘where will you go?’

You should be asking people that haven’t returned ‘where they went?’ Because they have gone lots and lots of places, some to nature, some to peaceful Sundays at home. Some went to coffee shops and some to other less judgmental faiths. Even a few went to their Fridge, opened the door and saw the light.

And the light said. “What do all these people have in common that have NOT returned to the fold?” They didn’t leave for any of the reasons above. They dug deep into the origins and realized this simple fact. The church isn’t true. They don’t believe it because of the overwhelming evidence that says its not anymore likely to be the one and only truth than every other faith Mormons themselves say only got it part right.

That’s why it’s a losing battle for the LDS faith in the long run. Like Zeus of a few thousand years ago. Elohim is doomed to be a quirky alien myth cooked up by¬†an 18th century conman to sell a book. Not tomorrow or likely even centuries from now though, more like Millenia. 3 Religions have inertia and are gonna be around plenty long since our human appetite for emotional and spiritual experience isn’t dissipating anytime soon.

But if you really want to know what’s bleeding the church right now, don’t ask the faithful followers ‘where will you go?’ Ask the 34,0004 subscribers to exmormon reddit ‘where they went?’

 

 

  1. Of course the believer will tell you it’s my dulling spiritual senses that lead me to not care anymore. Funny how no matter what I do it proves them right isn’t it? If you can’t leave it alone, they are right because the prophets said so. ¬†If you don’t care a whit about it. They are right because prophets said you are ‘past feeling’. Religion NEVER allows a test that could prove it wrong. ¬†I think there might be a lesson in there somewhere:)
  2. Broke has the same meaning as when a horse is broken to be docile, ridden and guided by its master.
  3. See Jesus myth for comparison
  4. Seriously every time I look this number ticks up. Less than a month ago it was under 30k, if this were a religion it would be kicking ass in growth numbers right now! It reminds me of this clip.