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What Book Slammed Your Religion, and You Found You Liked It?

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message 1: by Don (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:42AM) (new)

Don LaVange (wickenden) | 4 comments Mod
For me it was a book I just added to my religion bookshelf: New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology by my friend Brent Metcalfe (shown on the shelf below). Some of the essays in that book made me realize I'd been pretending for a very long time.

Anyone else?

message 2: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (fingolfin78) | 2 comments Well this is an old thread but I'll go ahead and comment. When I read "Under the banner of heaven" by Krakaur, I had already decided that I didn't believe in mormonism, but my decision was based on personal observation and critical thinking. I hadn't really read about mormonism's spurious history, so this book was quite an eye opener. It caused me to do some more searching and find even more evidence of lies and fabrications that were totally covered up and glossed over by people I loved and respected as a child. Pretty hard to take. That's when I really went through my "angry stage" as a liberated mind (wtf! why did everyone lie to me?, etc.).
Now I really view mormonism like most other religions, with a disconnect that can hardly even acknowledge my past involvement. I mean, I know the things I said and did, but to me now it's like, "yeah, we all do crazy and stupid things when we're kids, especially if we have an adults encouragement".

message 3: by Father (last edited Apr 20, 2008 11:10AM) (new)

Father | 1 comments Ok, so I'm new to the group. I don't know that there was A book, just a lot of exerpts from books that I can't find as they are out of print. Certainly, "Under The Banner Of Heaven" caused me pause but, I already new a lot of what Krakauer wrote as my great-grandfather's brother was Leroy Johnson. I'm going to email my old friend Chad, who has a lot of books we could discuss, however most of them are out of print and very difficult to find, and he lives in China, so getting his copies could be difficult even if he were to part with them for a bit. Also, I have looked for the book listed and haven't been able to find it, except used online. The prices range from $20 to $95. Any insight as to a local bookseller that might have it so I don't have to wait for it? It looks like an interesting read.

message 4: by Don (last edited Jun 18, 2008 02:03PM) (new)

Don LaVange (wickenden) | 4 comments Mod
Derrick brings up the facinating classic problem of "critical thinking" or something like that and "mormonism" or any other non-rational belief system.

I like to use an anthropological take on mormonism, which, according to the limits I feel I must use on my language in order to not superimpose too much of my culture on mormonism, must see both it and the general western discourse on rational and critical thinking in similar lights.

I fall prey perhaps to a certain post-modern feeling that is both tired of the rational model as a panacea (too much ugly is belched from that hole) and wary of a post-post modern return to rationalism. Something still feels like it's on the table.

In a nutshell, and I'm starting a new thread on this: I question the "rationality" of thinking that rational approaches will always lead one out of mormonism, or should, if done correctly.
As critics of both Christopher Hitchens and Dawkins take careful pains to point out, the arguments of critical thinking that lead one out of religion are all answerable through a foundational approach to that religion.

Once one accepts something as self-evident, one may rationally build all manner of contraptions through logic, that can be impermeable to logic.

I mean, try just to defeat Anselm! It can't be done unless you question the first premise: one can conceive of a being, greater than which, is no other being.


more later.

more later, when I'm not needing a drink.

message 5: by Derrick (new)

Derrick (fingolfin78) | 2 comments OK, in response to Don's last post: I didn't mean to infer that critical thinking (Western logic) will always lead an individual away from religion, simply that it lead ME away from religion. One of the most intelligent and rational people I have met was an active mormon. I think Don also brings up a good point in once you accept the initial assumptions of a religion (philosophy, science, manner of thought) all further claims can be rationalized back to those initial assumptions. Whichever of those assumptions an individual feels best about making is likely which dogma they will subscribe to. In my case, being a "western scientist" I am supposed to subscribe to three major assumptions (as I see it). First, that by isolating certain components of a system and then manipulating them in a given way can tell me something about how that system behaves in the universe at large. Second, which is tightly linked with the first, that my observation of that "experiment" will not affect the "experiment". And third, that my understanding of how I interpret the data is real; or in other words, that the senses humans posses actually receive "true" information about the universe. These are three VERY Western assumptions, and I often question them, especially after reading The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav. For those who haven't read it, it is basically a synopsis of modern physics that draws correlations with Eastern religion. Modern physics is basically showing that everything is relative, that everything is made up of everything else, and that inanimate matter either "knows" what it is doing or else the universe is already on a designated course and thus free will is an illusion.
The biggest problem I have with Eastern thought is that it is too anthropocentric. "If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?" Well, how about 10 million years ago when there were no humans but there were plenty of trees falling? Was it the gene pool that eventually gave rise to humans that mattered? The idea that reality is dependent on human consciousness simply does not make sense to my own interpretation of the world and the evidence of a universe completely independent of human thought or action. But there again, my feeling is based on the assumption that my own senses and logic can interpret the input I receive as reality.
OK, I've rambled way to long and don't even know if I have made my point. I haven't read Anselm (perhaps I should) but to me "rational thought" simply explains the Universe in the most concise manner, without having to invoke "something which cannot be explained" in order to explain what it is we can actually observe. Thus it makes the most sense to my own psyche.

message 6: by Don (new)

Don LaVange (wickenden) | 4 comments Mod
Lovely rambling Derrick.

I also question those very western points, and indeed, western philosophy (arguably, the original thread of western thinking) has questioned them anyway, and then questioned the questioning.

For eastern thought I love Tao te Ching, especially the western versions of it like the edition by Stephen Mitchell. I don't think it's too anthropocentric.

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