Archive for November, 2013

Skeptics, Doubters, and Negativites

November 8, 2013

My good friend Jacob has recently posted questions on
whether “tough questions” and “doubts” are tolerated in the church. I will answer that question here, and post the answer there as well.

For the moment I will separate that question from it’s context, because I want to deal with the context separately.

I personally do not feel the expectation that Church leaders must bare their own dirty laundry before the world, let alone that of their forbears. As a scientist who has a specific job, I can understand the need to only worry about certain facts that help me accomplish a certain job. For instance, it may be true that some human beings are unable to tell the difference between green and red, but that fact isn’t useful if my job is to create a spectrometer that can. The job of the apostles and prophets is not to give a titillating, comprehensive, maybe even boring history of the church. Some folks whose expectation is that the church provide them with everything sometimes claim whitewashing and hiding, when in reality the valid reality of “doing one’s job” is actually happening. As Elder Oaks said, “Not all that is true is useful.”

Quite frankly, I consider it even an insulting question, somewhere along the lines of, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” It assumes negative assumptions (“facts” not in evidence) that have been used, and are intended as well-poisoners. It paints a picture of the person that the questioner is, and it’s not a pretty picture.

“Is it okay to ask questions?” I personally do not feel that “there is no such thing as a stupid question.” There ARE stupid questions, there ARE stupid questioners, there ARE rude questions. So I would say, “It is okay to ask respectful questions.” Just like I think it would be rude to ask, “why are you afraid of the truth?” I don’t think it is fair for a student to derail a teacher’s well-planned, faithful, logical lesson, with a question that has no relevance to the day’s topic, a question that isn’t sincere, or that has so many false assumptions that it can’t even be answered.

Of course, usually we expect people to apply their own filters? “Will this question uplift others or bring others down.” Sometimes we should ask ourselves, “Will asking this question even uplift me?” Some questioners are impertinent, and in scientific circles, rude, impertinent questioners aren’t tolerated, why should they be in the church? If someone asks you a personal, inappropriate question, don’t you wisely build a wall of protection against that person? That may be more calm than running with pitchforks, but I for one just consider it wise to put-up mental protections against the mentally unwell, which is sometimes indicated by their questions.

So I guess the question shouldn’t be, “Are questions allowed”, but rather “What types of questions bring myself and others closer to God?” From my own life experience, questions which assume a priori that my understanding is right, and everyone else’s (including Church Leader’s and God’s) is wrong or incomplete, do not uplift myself or others. Questions which demand answers or explanations (“Why does it work this way?”) lead to unhappiness when they are not answered to my satisfaction. Questions which do not allow for the recognition of my assumptions, and limited understanding will not necessarily lead me into truth. So I would modify Jacob’s statement: “Mormons believe in a God who loves good questions, that lead to higher truth and better understanding and higher righteousness.” Questions which don’t fit those ideas will ultimately people away from God, and I don’t think He “loves” those types of questions.

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