Sunday, May 4, 2008

Why do people believe in strange things?

LDS Beliefs Are Very Strange

As I take a step back, many of the things taught in the LDS church are very strange, especially to someone that has not been raised in the church. As a member all my life, many of the stories of Joseph Smith, the angel Moroni, gold plates, and the Book of Mormon were normal to me, because it was the reality that I surrounded myself with.

However, we all grew up with some very strange beliefs that might seem normal to us if we grew up with these beliefs, since they are the reality in which we surround ourselves.

Many Other Beliefs Are Very Strange

Imagine if I told you to try to communicate telepathically with a floating zombie only after symbolically eating his flesh and drinking his blood. To people that have never grown up with Christianity, that is exactly how strange and twisted it sounds to them. The story of Jesus dying on the cross and coming back to life 3 days later, praying to God or taking part of the sacrament seems very normal when one is brought up in that kind of environment, because that is the reality we grow up in.

People look at the story of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and they see a story about a white Jewish Native American that wrote something down on some gold tablets thousands of years ago and buried them in upstate, NY to give Joseph to translate only to take back possession of the plates after translation and magically float away forever along with the gold tablets. Many people that I have spoken with find this story to be utterly ridiculous and wonder how normal 'sane' people can believe in such nonsense. However, many of these same people have no problem with Jesus rising from the dead after 3 days and ascending into heaven.

Everyone Has Strange Beliefs

How is the story of Joseph Smith and Gold plates any less rational than magic trees, talking snakes, global floods, a man surviving inside a whale for 3 days, plants being created on earth before the sun existed or destroying fortified walls with trumpets?

Point is that let's face it, all these beliefs are very strange. I am not saying they are invalid, I am saying that if you try to explain these things to someone that has never heard of them before, they sound very strange if one has not been brought up with these beliefs.

This has led me to understand that we all have things we believe in that are very strange to other people. This is not intended to diminish one's faith, just accept that many of the beliefs are strange to other people. This will help you understand why other people believe in things like the Book of Mormon that might seem strange to you.

Disillusioned Mormon.


John S. said...

I think you have brought up some interesting things to think about. What might seem normal to you or me might seem completely strange to other people.

Anonymous said...

I find you comparing Jesus with a zombie to be very offensive

Zelph said...

anonymous, the point wasn't to offend, but to try to see things how other people perceive things.

Jeremy said...

Out of all the flavors of religion in the world only 1/3 can be classified as Christianity. The rest of the world might not believe that "Jesus is magic" but they too have some type of belief that is absolutely absurd to someone else in the world.

Well, to the point: Every religion has their own take on "God" and will teach what they think is best for their particular flavor (even if they change it half way through).

One might consider researching where this whole organized religion thing came from in the first place. Not saying it will help you find the "true church" but at least give an understanding as to why people feel compelled to be apart of a group just so they can pray to their "flying zombie".

Zelph said...

Jeremy, well said, and I believe you have a good grasp on what I am saying with this post. Every religion has things that sound strange to others.

This ordeal has made me re-think my beliefs in Jesus or even God.

I think people believe in strange things because they want to believe in something greater than themselves and religion seems to satisfy that need.

Jeremy said...

That's what I mean. I don't think I could seriously follow any religion at this point due to the fact that all of them are based off antiquated beliefs about the unexplainable. The need to have an explanation for everything is fine but once something is "unexplainable" then passing it off as a miracle of god is really all that has been done over the years.

The big thing that all religions have across the board have is that no one can prove or disprove the existence of god AND that most people believe in god in one form or another.

Zelph said...

Perhaps it is only natural for us to ask questions. Things that were difficult to understand in the past were explained by religion, even if it was incorrect, it still answered questions.

However, science has recently given us a much greater understanding of how the natural world works, even if our understanding is still very limited.

I also think that people have a desire for there to be life after death, and so far there is no scientific evidence to support it. That is another reason why people turn to religion.

Zelph said...

For example, think about people in ancient times trying to explain lightning.

To the Greeks, Zeus was responsible for wielding his thunder-bolt.

The Aztecs had a god named Tlaloc, who's wrath caused lightning bolts.

The Norse people had Thor.

The Japanese had Susanowo.

The Egyptians had Seth.

India had Indra

Persians had Vayu

Sioux Indians had Wakinyan Tanka, or the great Thunderbird.

The Baltic god of thunder was Perkunas.

Point is you look at every diverse culture, and they all explain lightning by inventing some imaginary god and say "he is responsible for it"

Now, our understanding of lightning is "an atmospheric discharge of electricity, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, caused by atmospheric perturbations and accumulation of charged solar particles".

That is a far cry from saying "Thor is angry". However, I think we can cut them some slack, because seeing lightning would be terrifying and if I had no scientific knowledge, it would appear to be god's wrath.

However, even though we probably still have a lot to learn about lightning, science has helped us understand quite a bit about electricity to the point we can produce it, store it and utilize it to run our computer. Does that not make us gods? Perhaps that is a debate for another day.

NM said...

Hello again Zelph =)

There was a documentary aired a few days ago here in the UK on the BBC, entitled, 'Am I Normal?', which made some [mild] attacks (I was a little disappointed as I thought the BBC could have stepped it up a little) on 'religion' by looking at the absurdities 'faith' and modern-day mental health issues.

Here is a youtube upload - part one (of five) 'Am I Normal?'

Zelph said...

NM-Thanks for the link. The timing of my post seems to coincide perfectly. It looks very interesting and I will be watching it tonight.

Jeremy said...

Right! People invent something to explain what they dont know. Which is why I've drawn the conclusion that someone along the line figured out that if you are persuasive enough you can control people with it.

OH and don't forget to tell your congregation that God will be mad at you for not giving money to him.

MB said...

People have invented invisible gods, or God throughout all of recorded history. It is just a way for our brains to understand what we don't understand. As we grow in our understanding of how the natural world works, God gets smaller and smaller as things are explained without the assistance of an invisible being that is not provable.