The Context of Doubt

I just got done reading the latest effort by the LDS faith to get people to doubt their doubts. It’s titled Overcoming the Danger of Doubt and comes from Elder Hugo Montoya. I don’t know if it was the Fridge inspiring me, but I kept hearing this line from Princess Bride as I read it.

Doubt is certainly the thing religions fear most. In fact you pretty much have to doubt you are in the right religion to convert to another one. I know as a missionary for the church I saw more than 100 people doubt their previous faith enough to be baptized into the Mormon one. I only realize that in hindsight now though. At the time I was 100% sure I had the truth that I was offering to them. Never once did I think that doubt was something to be feared. After all truth doesn’t fear doubt right?

In this article I noticed that as usual there are personal stories that illustrate the principle. In this case how you ‘shouldn’t doubt.’ But aren’t those kind of stories in all religions? If a scientologist gets help from sea org, does that really mean you should not doubt the commitment you made to scientology?

Doubt is a wonderful thing, it’s not dangerous at all. But it is scary. Truth doesn’t fear doubt, but humans do. I was afraid to doubt my faith because of the ramifications if those doubts were realized. To me it meant a loss of hope, a loss of community and potentially the loss of family. But I found new ways to hope and new communities to belong to. My family didn’t survive the faith crisis without scars though. It could have been better but it also could have been much worse. I count myself lucky for the most part.

So yeah, to be totally honest, doubts can cause some pain if realized. But they also serve a useful purpose. If you are investing with Bernie Madolf and you hear a story about him that causes you to doubt. Clealry in that case checking out that doubt is a good thing and it could prevent you from further losses. But do you think that you might feel some pain discovering you were bamboozled? I think so. That isn’t the fault of the doubter though right?

I think it’s having your doubts confirmed that hurt the most. How much, depends on how deeply you held the belief that crumbled under the spotlight of doubt. Especially when the community you doubt is legit helped you in a time of need like Elder Montoya. But I don’t think that means he should call anyone or anything that causes doubt ‘dangerous.’ It’s too easy to get the impression that the natural fear that comes with doubt is a sign. It’s too easy to blame the doubter for simply questioning. And far, far too often it drives a wedge between families that believe and those that don’t, just because they doubt. This whole Ensign article1 is filled with manipulation based on fear. I’d sum it up like this.

Hello, my name is Hugo Montoya, you doubted my religion… prepare to die.

 

 

  1. Warning! easter egg, not intended to be read as part of this post 🙂

    Ok so I wanted to talk more about context since one of the claims in the article was about how important context is. But the ending just flowed and I really liked it. So if you are still reading, enjoy this easter egg.

    Context IS important, I’d like to see church apologetics use legit context! But typically what you get is careful wording. Like when they say a girl was ‘almost 15’ to make the context of a 14 year old marrying a 37 year old under threat of eternal damnation more palatable.

    My suggestion? If you want to know the context. Don’t count on anyone else to give it to you. Go find the history and read it yourself. The essay admitting the polygamy of Joe Smith endeavors to say the 14 year old marriages were legal. Um well sorta, it was legal to marry a 14 year old, but it wasn’t legal to marry two of them, which he in fact did… to put in context.

    Context does matter, but don’t take my word for it. Go see for yourself.

Licking Games and Controlling Behavior

I licked my first game cartridge last night. I know given the title you were probably hoping for something a little more salacious than that.  It tasted pretty bad, but I tried a second time just to be sure! 


Have you ever done something just because someone told you not to? What is it about denying people something that immediately draws their attention to it? 

In case you haven’t heard. Nintendo announced a week ago that it had coated its new cartridges with a bittering agent. They did it to keep kids from sticking it in their mouths. The end result? Thousands of people have been sticking them in their mouths.  

For some reason it’s human nature to be attracted to the forbidden. To be enticed by the  taboo. To be drawn to the verboten. 

So why is it religions continue to create rules about what we should wear, what we watch and what we do? Isn’t it counter productive to forbid the sin thus causing their patrons to desire it? 

I have a theory. Dopamine addiction. Religions do this because it keeps people coming to church. Stick with me for a second on this. 

When we undergo stress, our body releases all sorts of chemicals. It helps us cope with that stress. Follow that high up with a calm period and it’s a pleasant overall result. Game designers have understood this is a great way to make games super popular. You can’t make the game too easy or it’s totally boring and no one will play it. Or to put the concept in religious terms: 

“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary [to lead] unto life and salvation.” –  Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, p. 58.

Make up a bunch of fake rules (no whacking it to porn!!), get people to join your imaginary world and try to win in that world. Kind of makes it obvious that religion is the oldest RPG game we’ve ever come up with.  

Social media i.e. Facebook from this perspective is sort of an augmented reality game where we get high on the conflict of who has the coolest vacation post. Or who wins the latest argument in a debate. It’s all about the conflict and the need to resolve it. 

The best way to create conflict? Try to control behavior. Implement rules that have to be followed or you lose! But don’t permanently kick them out of the game if they fail. Allow them to respawn/repent and start over.  

Maybe the real reasons religions are losing adherents at the highest rate in human history has nothing to do with reasonable rational thought prevailing… Maybe thier UI sucks and it isn’t keeping up with other options we now have for imaginary worlds to live in.  

My point? I don’t really have one this post. Just some random thoughts to chew on that fit a pretty awesome clickbait (lickbait??!!) title. I gotta run now, no more time for pontification. There is an idiot on Reddit that needs to understand how wrong he is. 

The Decency of Humanity

Today’s sermon on the door of the Fridge is about decency. More specifically do people need religion to be decent? Then the follow up question: Is it possible that religion actually suppresses the natural decency and morality that we humans seem to portray in every culture and medium we have created? 

Personally I think most people can be moral and decent all on their own. Sure there are some that need threats of hell to be nice to others, but honestly I don’t think that is typical the case. 


Along the same vein, it doesn’t take much research to discover that the ‘divinely appointed sources’ didn’t get it any better than people who relied on their own judgment. 

Even worse, in some cases dogma takes on a life of its own. Keeping things like racism embedded in a culture way past the time the rest of society realized keeping slaves is NOT a nice thing to do.
Case in point. The bible bans shellfish…. but on slavery, that’s all good. God made sure we knew shrimp was bad to eat, and that we should kill homosexuals ‘n all. But on slavery? The nicest thing we get out of the bible about that is:

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.” (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

Thus is the value of divinely appointed sources that we are supposed to put our faith in and act on. Slaves are supposed to obey, and you are supposed to kill gay people.

The ‘truth’ of these sources is so bad that most of humanity already ignores it. Just read the part of the Old Testament where God kills a guy for spilling his seed on the ground instead of getting his brothers wife pregnant to any Christian you know. I’ll bet most won’t know it’s in there, then a few will say that part of the Bible doesn’t count anymore. (except the 10 commandments, for some reason those are still ok.) 

That’s why I have a lot more faith in humanity than the dude that is presumably filling all these books up with stuff we should apparently be paying more attention to. 

Because most of humanity already ignores all the bad stuff, even as they claim to believe in their books or leaders as giving us the inerrant word of God.

In the long run I believe humanity is winning this battle. While over and over again churches are losing due to their own greed, lies, illogic and awful dogma. Which thanks to modern information technology is exposed at the touch of a screen.  

It’s almost like the vision of the Fridge is true no matter what my voice has to do with it! 

Humanity is domesticating religion all on it’s own. Humanity is making these myths bow to their own sense of morality. Even disavowing their own scriptures and dogma. 

And that brings me hope!

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!

Making Pokemon a No Go is a Mistake

The Church Of The Fridge endorses Pokemon Go. Yep you heard it right, it’s a good thing. Since personally playing this magical game my interactions with my children steadily increased. Not by forcing them to talk to me, but in a natural more organic way. We share rare catches on our family text group. We go for walks together hunting creatures and stocking up on Poke balls. It’s an easy game to play. It encourages walking and interacting with each other. The ease of play makes it fun for young and old alike. A game that appeals to such a wide age range is rare indeed. Did I mention the walking part?

It’s been great for me personally, a reason to exercise and chat with my kids. Something to talk about we both enjoy. And according to my old religion it should be avoided. When I first heard the admonition to not play Pokemon Go in a recent broadcast, I was flabbergasted. I mean didn’t he know that there are Poke stops at EVERY church building. Pokemon Go has made many an unwilling teen far more interested in going to church lately than any activity I am aware of. I think the fear promoted in the counsel to not play is unfounded. The rising generation is built to multitask. Information flows to and from this generation in lots of different ways, internet, twitter, instagram, phones, TV, cable and so on. They have been raised on reaching for a device in their pocket to access the knowledge base of the entire planet when their curiosity is peaked. I presume as the old guard, it is hard for the leaders to grasp that a child or teen can swipe a Poke stop every few minutes and still get something out of a lesson. But they can as can be attested to my kids pipping on a conversation I was convinced they weren’t listening to while they played a game.

After pondering the massive generational gap on this edict another thought hit me. Earring’s… I remember when women were limited to only one earring per ear by prophetic decree. At the time my wife was saddened as she removed her second pair. I saw her give up a piece of individuality that day, a dimming in what made her unique and valuable to the world. Sure she complied because it’s all about obedience right? But at what cost? Since we have left the faith much of the light that made her amazing has returned. That has been one of the more unexpected benefits of exiting a regime that controls so much of what you wear and how you are supposed to look.

The next thing that hit me was the poker ban. A little while after the the earring banning came the poker ban. It happened when the world series of poker was at an all time high in popularity. I suppose that is one of the reasons to ban things. If everyone is doing it it must be wrong. At the time, I played a monthly game with some of my best friends, I was playing occasionally with my brothers and sisters too. For me a small amount of $$ in a game was a great way to spend a couple of hours shooting the breeze while basically handing a friend twenty bucks of mad money. For a person that tends to be more introverted, these games were a great way to socialize and develop friendships. But, in an effort to obey I quit going and quit playing with my compadres. I remember how it saddened me at the time.

Concluding that this whole Pokemon No Go really wasn’t all that different than prohibiting other popular items like extra earrings and card games in the past I had an epiphany. I think this is a cry for attention. Religion as a whole is struggling to remain relevant in an ever changing world. For one so ensconced in gerontocracy the LDS faith is a case study in adaptation difficulties. Dogma once shrouded in ritual as divine knowledge is regularly destroyed by accessibility to information on a scale that has not been available to any previous generation. The old game doesn’t work anymore. So faith as a tool to help humanity is … well … kind of showing its age. It’s far too easy to hop back in time to a video or a text conversation and see exactly what was said.

The used car salesman tactic of BS’ing your way out of a uncomfortable corner is giving way to a style of open discussion where we have to look at and deal with faults in each other rather than ignore them or hide them. It’s not all roses, the reality is I do look fat in these jeans, and the white lies that greased human interaction such as these don’t work as well anymore. I think we are giving up some privacy sure. But we are also creating a world where open, honest, brutally honest discussion is the norm. This prevents oppression and encourages freedom. This is the party in the world today where the crotchety old man called religion is sitting in his chair being ignored so he lashes out with wisdom that used to be his gift to society but instead is rapidly debunked by google.

If faiths are to remain relevant in the world to come. Faith needs to adapt. Faith in a religion often equated to faith in oneself. Faith in your ideas and choices. Feedback that the risk you are taking is worth the effort. This is why the Fridge endorses Pokemon Go. Because it is a good thing that has strengthened families. Those that embrace it have used it to create positive change in their lives. Sure it may be a short lived success. But there will be another thing and another thing and another thing in the future that humanity creates to feed our social needs. We should watch for it and embrace it.

I think religion needs to finally realize what has always been it’s best product offering to humanity. It’s hope. Hope that wrongs will be righted and things will get better. All the hell fire and damnation fear tactics just don’t work anymore in the world of iPads and information. Humanity is basically good, and the old monster under the bed stories are being exposed for the myths they were all along. The new message is Hope for a Voltorb, but be happy with that Rattata for the candy you get. And always remember just being alive is a wonderfully magical experience waiting to be explored.

It’s time to find what works and promote that, rather than cling to outdated dogma dismissing anything new and popular. That is the sermon on the Fridge today.

Now if only I could get Niantic to put a Poke stop here…

 

Fabricating War, a Mormon Conspiracy Theory 

War makes money

War profiteering has an old history, it goes way back, so far back that I think you’d struggle to find the first war profiteer. In fact I would dare bet that war profiteering and religion were pretty much invented at the same time. In my own life time I have witnessed two great wars touted all over the media. The war on drugs and the war on terror. Both wars that have lasted indefinitely and pretty much not accomplished anything.

Well that’s not entirely true, the war on drugs seems to have created massive criminal syndicates in Mexico and other countries that ship banned drugs to the black markets of America. Pretty much the same way the war on alcohol did in the days of prohibition. But ‘winning‘ this war? Eh, not so much. People still use drugs.

The war on drugs was the first war I learned of as a youth. But then came the war on terror. Launched after people doing what their god told them to took down a couple of office buildings full of people like you and me. Is the war on terror really a war that can be won? Or will we poor endless money into chasing shadows? You can even find conspiracy theories that the entire 9-11 incident was fabricated just to keep the populace looking at that enemy out there while the rich and powerful adjust society to their liking right here at home. War makes money, a lot of it. That can’t be argued. Did anyone invest in Halliburton before Sept 2001?

War is a distraction

Which leads me to a more recent war that has been declared in my home state. The war on porn. All over the state places have been popping up to combat this ‘new drug’ to treat people for an affliction that must be the leading cause of losing their faith and families. Save your family now! Only 12,000$ for our proven porn detox method!

Here in Utah the war on porn is in full swing. But the conspiracy theorist in me wonders why? Could this war be getting pumped for reasons only being talked about in back rooms?

Maybe there are people starting up these treatment centers and cashing in… Or maybe, just maybe this is a good distraction from what all the apostates are saying are the real reasons they are leaving the faith.

Reasons like finding out that the founding prophet is a convicted fraud that pretended to find treasure for money by looking at magic rocks in a hat. That the same guy told 14 year old girls if they didn’t marry him it would be their fault the angel God sent with the sword was gonna take the prophet from the earth. Oh and yeah that same magic rock? He used it to produce the Book of Mormon. No that couldn’t possibly be why all these men, women and families are leaving the church. It couldn’t possibly be the new information available on the internet exposing facts about the origins of the faith that had been carefully white washed until now. No, it must be the porn, we need to declare war on it!

War gets attention

Is this war on porn a conspiracy by the church to distract from the real problem that is causing the biggest apostasy the faith has experienced since the collapse of a bank with a 3 dollar bill that Joseph prophesied would make them all wealthy if they invested? (yes this really happened).

Who knows? But I do know this. If you want to focus attention on something. Declare war on it. Hmmm that might explain the war on christmas… Maybe the Fridge should declare war on the Flying Spaghetti Monster since that fake religion is clearly in a-pasta-cy. A war on pasta! Isn’t that basically a war on carbs? Given my diet centered news feed that appears to already be well underway. It never fails that I discover the signs of the Fridge are everywhere if you only have the faith to look.

May you all chill in the blessings of the Fridge, Cheese and Ice, Amen.