The force of history

Stephen Marsh Mormon 46 Comments

I’ve a friend in the simulations industry, and it almost drives him crazy when he hears about the “force of history” or about how history is cyclic.  The one theory is that trends will always move towards the more enlightened position, the other theory is that everything repeats.  Both seem to be demonstratively false.

Which is why the LDS Church is not destined to be completely mainstream and accepted (seems the inevitable force of history, doesn’t it) or why SSM has actually lost ground in California since Prop 8 and the recession.  Or why women, who had equality in 1100 a.d. Iceland, had lost it by 1400 a.d.  So that when a friend of mine was really afraid that equality was being rolled back, I did not tell her that the possibility did not exist.

At the same time, things that look cyclic are really about the changing balance of counterforces.  Which is why there are not inevitable cycles either (after all, if there were, there should have been another Franco-Prussian war in 1980 and 2005).

Next time you look at a trend, or the Church or guess where something will go and someone tells you that “everything is cyclic” so that any change will be rolled back, or that “the force of history is inevitable” so that the forces of change will just keep pushing things along, remember that history and its development is a matter of dynamic forces, not linear ones only.  A cliff may fall down, but that doesn’t mean it will fall back up, there may be changes, but that doesn’t mean they will continue forever (a cliff quits falling when it hits bottom) or that reversal is inevitable.

What predicted change do you really doubt?  Which one do you think really can’t be stopped?

Comments

comments

Comments 46

  1. Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. However, SSM, is not one of those ideas. Restricting marriage to one man and one woman is one thing society has gotten right.

  2. Human populations will continue to mix genetically until there is essential homogeny.

    People will begin to genetically engineer themselves into some pretty odd features, by our standards today, such as furred humans, hobbit-sized humans, giants, unusual skin-tones, wings of the body, anime eyes, etc.

    Humans will expand into the solar system with colonies and begin to diverge culturally from the increasingly monocultural Earth.

    Humans will learn how to maintain ecosystems and begin actively managing Earth’s environment so that it becomes like a garden with carefully maintained wilderness areas. Poaching or destruction of habitat will become punishable by death, as it threatens the life of the entire human species. Non-human animals are granted some legal rights now reserved for humans alone.

    Basic nutrition, clean water, health care, and education are extended to all humans.

    The explosion in innovation that results from that will drive human civilization into a technological “singularity”, a time during which advance happens so rapidly that our whole culture is remade within a short period of time.

    War becomes obsolete.

    Consumption of animal products in any form comes to be considered cruel and disgusting and is therefore eliminated from our culture entirely. All non-human animal populations are carefully managed. Species that are domestic today are kept on as pets in the future.

    Education advances so that what is today PhD level knowledge will soon be covered before high school. All education will be coordinated through the web. The best teachers will have their lectures and interactive learning modules online for everyone to access.

    The web will be used to connect people with similar interests and fields so that virtual meetings will become far easier and better than travel. People will mostly only meet in real life for a few reasons such as to marry, participate in sporting events, or carry out physical construction projects.

    Robotic appliances continue to be developed so that housework is only a matter of managing the collection of robots that is the house.
    Wealth accumulates so that instead of paying taxes to governments, people instead are maintained by their government’s services. In other words, deficit spending is stopped and a surplus is maintained until all national debt is paid off and the nation builds up a trust fund large enough to cover all its expenses. At that point taxes are dropped.

  3. What predicted change do I really doubt?

    The second coming of Jesus.
    The LDS church rolling forth to fill the earth.
    The priesthood saving America.
    The Lamanites becoming white and delightsome. (Oh, yeah, they changed their minds on that and now they only need become pure and delightsome.)

  4. But are certain things inevitable? Didn’t Christ in his visit to the Americas predict that the 4th generation of the Nephites would go down in flames?

  5. #1:
    Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. However, SSM, is not one of those ideas. Restricting marriage to one man and one woman is one thing society has gotten right.

    Jon, how are you defining “society?” There are several states, and several other nations, which currently recognize marriage equality. How is it that these are not part of “society” in your mind?

  6. #3 Michael–

    You’ve created a case for disbelief regarding the church. That’s ok. We each have our agency as to how we believe.

    As an experiment, place yourself in Joseph Smith’s day living in Navuoo on the day he died, and you have the same kind of belief then, as now.

    What would you have said:

    1. About the immediate future of the church
    2. The impact of the Book of Mormon on the world by the year 2009
    3. The growth of the church in America and worldwide by the year 2009
    4. The number of missionaries that would have been sent forth by 2009

  7. re 5:

    I think Jon has already ejected Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Spain, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, with plans for Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, from his definition of society.

    I think one this is for certain. Things don’t happen in history “just because,” so people do themselves a disservice by saying that historical progress will continue ad infinitum on its own just because.

    No. Progress — whatever you define it as — depends on marketing, on networking, on reaching out, on hard work and toil. Even if times are changing, the younger generations are becoming more accepting, etc., no one should be resting on his laurels.

  8. You’ve hit on a very important point, especially in regards to evolutionary theory. History shows that creatures do not evolve from “simple” to “complex” or from “dumber” to “smarter” etc… It is actually pretty random, but if you roll the dice enough times you eventually get a really complex and smart species who can do things like write blog posts.

    Now don’t get me wrong. I find humans to be very special indeed. I was just pointing out in all things, even science, you turn out to be wrong if you assume everything progresses from worse to better.

    Just as often it goes from better to worse and the so the best models for making predictions about this stuff in reality turn out to be those that fundamentally are no different than rolling the dice in a sort of “weighted” way. (Okay so it isn’t a complete roll of the dice, but close.) These models fall under the name of Mote Carlo at least in the physics camp for those interested.

  9. RE: #6. Your point about unpredictability is well taken, and underscores Stephen’s excellent point in his post – but it bears no relevance to the rightness or “truth” of Mormonism. In other words, I agree that the outlook for the Restoration movement looked rather more bleak on June 27, 1844, to many people, than was justified. But there were other movements afoot at that same time (communism as one example) which would also grow.

    Today, in a little corner of the world, a new movement is just now brewing which will have dramatic consequences for future generations. We don’t know, yet, where it is, or who its proponents may be, or what they believe . . .

  10. The advent of the internet, social networking, and instant/constant access through texting, etc. will have some sort of impact on the human race. Pretty soon, the 1980s will seem as quaint as the 1880s and the 1500s.

  11. #9 rick–

    I agree with your major point. The mere fact the church survived, and has done well (fruits) tilts the scales of its legitimacy a little bit, but certainly doesn’t destroy our agency by being absolute witness to truthfulness.

    Rick, I’ll like to get your take on something I’ve been thinking about.

    Here it is:

    Faith becoming knowledge is an interesting topic. By this I mean, the best someone can say who doesn’t believe is that they “disbelieve” because the evidence isn’t conclusive one way or the other.

    On the other side, some will say they believe, and still others say they “know”. Those who know must have a significant Spiritual experience to be able to truthfully say that.

    However, there isn’t an equivalent experience for disbelief. There is no way I am aware of that would be the equivalent of a Spiritual experience for those who chose to disbelieve–that would allow them to say they “know”.

    Of course, there is the possibility of satan appearing as an angel and deceiving them, but then that would be a lie (Alma 30:53).

    I’m just kicking this idea around. I’d like to get your thoughts and anyone else who might like to contribute.

  12. #12 – Jared, just because the Book of Mormon says it would be a lie, doesn’t objectively mean it would be a lie. There’s no way to have this conversation with you because you won’t entertain any possibility that doesn’t presuppose the truthfulness of the scriptures and the church. I’m not impugning your testimony, but just because some other person says they “know” the church is true or god lives, doesn’t necessarily mean they do. How can you say it’s possible for you to “know” whether god exists, but then turn around and say no one can “know” he doesn’t exist because it’s not provable? If the existence or non-existence of god is not provable, then it’s not provable for anyone. If you believe it is possible to absolutely know whether god exists, then you must concede that it is possible to absolutely know that he doesn’t. It’s either provable or it’s not and it has to go both ways. I am supremely confident of the things I believe and don’t believe. That said, I happen to agree with you that the existence of god is not provable, in the sense that there is no empirical evidence to support it. Because I believe that, in my opinion you don’t “know” that he exists any more than I “know” he doesn’t. We both have our reasons for believing what we believe. I don’t see how this discussion can really go any further than that.

  13. Tatiana, were you saying you doubt these developments or you see them as inevitable?

    #1 – Jon, you are ignoring the reality of not only the existence of gay marriage in many developed societies, including in this country, but also the trend in the western world, which is undeniably toward the acceptance of gay marriage. I would encourage you to do some research of what legal experts believe is the probable outcome of this issue, which is the federal constitutional right to gay marriage and protection of sexual orientation as a civil right. At this point, even most die-hard opponents of gay marriage admit this is probably inevitable.

  14. Andrew S. – “Many of the evil portents told of the internet are overblown, though.” I totally agree that the evil portenders of the internet are just the same old fear-mongers with a new thing to fear. But I do believe it will change things such as how people relate to one another and how quickly we process information and how we make connections between different things and how effectively we multi-task. I see it as having a net positive impact on human development, but with some probably unforeseen downside as well.

    “Hawkgrrrl, sorry to say, but the 1980s already seem quaint.” Ouch. So, it’s time to give up those parachute pants?

  15. re 16:

    Hawkgrrrl, I like to see the change as not necessarily positive or negative (even when I want to say it’s “net positive,” I recognize this is part of bias of the way I already see the world), but just different…so I agree that it will (and has been) changing how people relate, how information is processed, etc., I just disagree with those who swing too far either way (oh, society is going bankrupt! or oh, this is the best thing since the foundation of civilization!)

    and you don’t necessarily have to give up the parachute pants. Remember that quaint can become vintage. And vintage = $$$

    re 12:

    Jared, I’ve seen you beginning this kind of reasoning elsewhere…and it’s an interesting adaptation…but still, it represents to me still a false conclusion. It seems to me that faith doesn’t become knowledge. Rather, faith might become a perception of knowledge, but it doesn’t become knowledge. When people say they “know,” they are making (in many cases) a categorical error…misplacing and mislabeling very strong belief within an interpretive framework as knowledge. The church openly supports this process, and so this is why many people who use a normal definition of knowledge get racked up by the testimony process — because it’s not really feasible to know.

    So, I mean, I think that you can (and do) find people on the other side who think they “know.” But I think these people are just as arrogant as believers who purport to know — making a categorical error as to what their belief system and framework can really tell about. You probably will not give much credibility to my words, but this is not a reflection on my words, but rather your interpretive framework. (Similarly, I come from my own interpretive framework too).

    IN FACT, I’ll tell you about people whose interpretive framework allows their “disbelief” to become the misplaced knowledge I’m talking about — people who convert to other religions. All of a sudden, you then have people who disbelieve and then “know” through some spiritual witness (and they would say it’s as valid, or even more valid, than your spiritual witnesses) that the Mormon church is false.

    An example of these different interpretive frameworks and the categorical error from “knowledge.” You raise the idea of the church’s continued existence and success…OK, so this is a “neutral” event: the church still exists and is successful.

    But your interpretive framework is to believe the church is true — so you of course will interpret its continued success as fulfilling many prophecies, scriptures, etc., And you point to your spiritual experiences as “knowledge.”

    But on the other hand, there are other frameworks, as Rick mentioned in 9, that do not imply the truthfulness of the church. For example, we *know* that many movements that we do not believe to be true can grow and thrive to. In fact, my position (as I’ve related in comment 7) is that things don’t just succeed “just because” (or “just because of” miracle, prophecy). Rather, things succeed because of hard work, marketing, trial, etc., The church has these in spades, but they don’t speak about truth. They speak about a well-oiled organization.

    Again, you’re probably not going to really listen to what I’m saying, except to find whatever will confirm what you wanted to believe. But while you point to the phenomenon of many believers saying they “know” and many disbelievers saying they don’t know as a sign that the believers have something more, I would point out alternatively that perhaps the believers are just intellectually dishonest about the regular use of “knowledge,” or at the very least confused about what really composes “knowledge,” while disbelievers are more intellectually honest, which allows them to be more cautious about saying things so absolutely.

  16. I’m a bit confused about the “two theories” as applied to Mormonism. I would describe as an “extraordinarily bumpy progressiveism” what the Book of Mormon teaches, for example. Things rise and fall, but something always has the tenacity to cling to part of the gains and push forward. Perhaps weighted rolls of the dice, as described above is a good way to put it.

    It’s also consistent with the few data points we have from natural history. Even when the earth gets turned into a snowball or melts into a magma ocean, life returns and persists and does show a bias, despite the randomness, toward complexity.

  17. #14 brjones

    Thank you for your thoughtful analysis.

    The purpose of my question isn’t to persuade, but is an exercise in reasoning.

    Based on the scriptures a person can know that God exist, but I am not finding any possibility that a person can have the equivalent knowledge that He doesn’t exist. It’s a little lopsided in that respect.

    In my Book of Mormon reading, I am in the early chapters of the book of Ether. Just finished the chapters on the brother of Jared seeing the premortal Jesus. This is what got me to thinking about this question.

    You said:

    “If the existence or non-existence of god is not provable, then it’s not provable for anyone. If you believe it is possible to absolutely know whether god exists, then you must concede that it is possible to absolutely know that he doesn’t. It’s either provable or it’s not and it has to go both ways.”
    _________________________________________________

    I’ve always thought this way too, but I am beginning to wonder with this the line of reasoning I just outlined.

    Of course, this would be within the context of church doctrine.

    Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts. 😀

  18. My predictions, fwiw:

    1. Until Jesus comes, there will be no Utopia-ish changes in society. Human beings will remain human, with all the good and bad that entails. Hunger, poverty, disease, suffering, natural disasters and war will not go away. No amount of voting, marching, chanting, taxing or spending will make this not true. However, individually, we can help mitigate the effects of these things if we are willing to.

    2. The world will never know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Mr. Owl was our last, best hope.

    That’s all I’ve got.

    And the 80s were just a few minutes ago. I don’t know why the music videos are looking older now.

  19. Any time Jared. Incidentally, I think your reasoning is perfectly sound within the context of church teachings. In fact, one of my constant frustrations on this blog is that many people, in my opinion, claim to be strict adherents of the church but then capitulate or at least “play it loose” with church doctrines or positions. As has been said before, I respect the fact that you hold the line tightly. I obviously don’t agree with many of your premises, but within the framework you are claiming, I think you are very consistent, and I appreciate that.

  20. #17 Andrew S–

    Thank to you, my friend, for sharing your typically well thought out response to my query.

    I agree that the word “know” gets kicked around in the church.

    However, the fact remains there are ways to know, degrees of knowing, that are valid. If we use Joseph’s Smith account,and believe it, we could use his experience as the ultimate criteria for knowing.

    Then we could reasonably move to the experience of the three witnesses and say they “know” as well. Yet they didn’t have as strong a witnesses as Joseph.

    Next we could go to the dedication of the Kirkland temple where many varied types of Spiritual experiences were manifested. Some of the people reported having visions, felt the presence of unseen beings, and heard voices from unseen beings. They could correctly say they “know” even though they didn’t see with their eyes.

    You see the point I am making.

    These kinds of experiences don’t occur, at least as far as I’m aware, with those who disbelieve.

  21. Gay marriage does nothing to further society. The gay lifestyle is unsafe for society in all possible ways. Society’s main goal is to keep going and propagate itself so that the next generation rises. Marriage is seen as a milestone in one’s life. If anything and everything can get married, then people will eventually look at marriage itself with disdain and will choose not to get married. Look at the various possible combinations if society permitted if anyone and anything to get married.
    1. Man/woman
    2. Man/man
    3. Woman/woman
    4. Father/daughter
    5. Mother/son
    6. Uncle/nephew
    7. Aunt/niece

    Nothing is as effective as #1. No one wants to become a dying, depopulated planet. If society pushes any other model than #1, we are in trouble. The State Supreme Court of Washington recently ruled that lawmakers do indeed have the power to set marriage laws/rules between one man and one woman.

    Consequences we would be looking at are catastrophic and widespread.

  22. “Ouch. So, it’s time to give up those parachute pants?”

    Not a chance! Leg warmers have made their way back, so don’t lose the parachute pants just yet. The biggest comeback I am waiting for though is the 80’s hair. Now that is something I hope is cyclical! 🙂

  23. Re: #1: “…Restricting marriage to one man and one woman is one thing society has gotten right…”

    Does this include when society forced the “wayward” LDS Church to give up polygamy? If so, are you implying that JS and BY had it “wrong” and it took society to correct them? Or is what they did “right” even though society thought it was “wrong”, in which case “right” is subjective and can be different from person to person in society.

  24. Re: multiple posts from Jared et al re: belief and knowing

    I think much of the problem in all of this is semantics. Words that cause various issues for me:

    “Belief” – to me, this doesn’t mean 100% certainty. I can certainly belief that the LDS Church is true, without saying much else. Belief can be a large continuum. It can range through quite a lot of possibilities. “I believe that I’ll be worth $1 million by the end of my life” (based on assumption that I make x amount/year and will work y number of years) “I believe that the next car to drive by will be white.” (based on assumption that the most popular color is white) Much of scientific “knowledge” falls in this area. “I believe the law of gravity as described by Newton means this apple will fall” (based on observations – but obviously ultimately superseeded by Einstein). All current “laws” or “theories” are in actuality “beliefs”, some quite likely and accepted nearly unanimously, others less accepted.

    “Disbelief” – you talk about the difference between a positive experience forming a “belief” and contrast that with an absence of an experience forming the basis for “disbelief”. I don’t know that it’s quite a clear cut as that. Again, on the “continuum” of belief, I look as belief as “more likely than not” and disbelief as “less likely than not”. In any event, belief/disbelief is something that can always change as more data presents itself.

    “Know” – to me, this means 100% certainty. I think this term is often confused with belief/believe. If you have an experience that makes you 100%, absolutely certain that something is true, then you “know” it is true. The difficulty for me is that perceptions of truth are different from person to person. Different people require different things to be able to say that something is “true”. And they witness to contradicting “truths”. I know people who will absolutely guarantee that they “know” that the LDS Church is the “true” Church. I also know people who have had it confirmed to them through equally valid experiences that Islam is true, that the Catholic church is true, and that Hinduism is true. I’m sure the same can be said for people in any faith. I’m sure that many of Warren Jeff’s followers have had spiritual experiences that confirm to them that he is a true prophet of God and that the mainstream LDS Church has fallen away from the “truth” revealed to JS.

    Definitions aren’t necessarily limited to these, but I think are at the heart of many of the problems facing the LDS Church today.

    “Christian” – the discussion as to whether Mormons are Christian have been hashed out, but it’s largely semantics

    “Translation” – to the vast majority of the world, translation means to look at something written (usually, could be oral), determine it’s meaning, and express those concepts in a different language. It means a literal representation of one thing using a different set of symbols. A problem some people have is the “translation” of the BofM or the Book of Abraham. There are no accounts stating that JS actually “translated” either of these. When people find this out, there is significant cognitive dissonance, not from the works themselves, but from the semantics. If the Church came out and said that these were inspired works from a prophet of God essentially catalyzed by the possession of some ancient artifacts, it wouldn’t give the same problem. Hundreds of millions of Muslims believe that Mohammed was inspired to write the Qu’ran. Billions of Christians and Jews believe that the prophets and writers of the various books in the Bible relied on a combination of various sources with inspiration from God to write what they did. The insistence of the LDS Church on these works being directly “translated” also causes problems.

    The list could go on. But I think a basic issue with the thoughts you are developing (and I see where you are going with it) is semantics and varying definitions of words.

  25. brjones, I see the list as being likely, but not inevitable, with many surprises along the way, no doubt. History does have a direction, and it’s given by technology. The society we have at any given time depends on the technology we have. Technology usually improves over time, but can certainly have setbacks.

    The things I listed are the path I see humanity going on if we survive and thrive. It seems far more likely at this juncture that we’ll simply go extinct instead, due to inability to change our approach to match changing times. However, I do think that we’re capable of learning better. I see our species as being in its adolescence, in that we’re reckless and heedless and want someone else to come behind us and clean up the mess we leave. If we make it through to adulthood, it’ll be our descendants cleaning up the mess, and there will be many great and wondrous things to behold in the new time.

    If we don’t, … hmmm, I think I’d rather focus on what we need to do in order to make it.

  26. #24 – Jon, the original question was what advancements we see as inevitable and which we see as improbable or unsustainable. Obviously you feel strongly about gay marriage, but as strongly as your feelings are against gay marriage, they clearly don’t reflect the view of society as a whole, as I think it’s been demonstrated that the societal trend is toward gay marriage and not away from it. Ranting against homosexuality doesn’t change this fact.

  27. #24 Jon:

    Despite all of your predictions of “catastrophic” and “widespread” problems if the “man/woman” paradigm isn’t followed, your argument is completely wrong. Nature is full of oddities. There is asexual reproduction. There are species where adults change sexes as needed in response to environmental conditions. And there are all sorts of other scenarios once you think “outside the box”.

    There is a great trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer (Neanderthal Parallax) which goes through implications of contact between an earth where Neanderthals became the predominant hominid and our current situation. Regardless of how anyone feels about the details, Sawyer sets up an alternate way of looking at the world that at least opens your mind to other possibilities. Specifically related to your comments, in the Neanderthal world (very minor spoiler alert) the women all essentially live together in a common city and the men live in a peripheral ring around the city. They get together several days / month, but are otherwise separate. Each man has a wife (with whom he forms a lifetime monogamous relationship much like us), but each person also lives in what is essentially a homosexual relationship (ie. man with another man, woman with another woman) during the majority of the time otherwise. As presented in the book, it is completely natural and they are as surprised at how we do things as this seemed to me when I first read it.

    So, before you state how things “have to be” or else there is catastrophe, be careful. You perhaps need a better argument.

  28. Mike S
    There is no better way to put it. Society had this one pegged right for a long time and if we change it, amen to life as we know it.

  29. By the way, there are a number of other things that society “had pegged right for a long time”; they were called slavery, no rights for women, religious intolerance (including against mormons), etc. Are you equally saddened that society wasn’t able to hold on to those gems? They’re rooted in the same place your fear of homosexuality is based – the bible.

  30. but if you roll the dice enough times you eventually get a really complex and smart species who can do things like write blog posts. — I’m a believer in RNG (random number generators) and liked that one.

    If you believe it is possible to absolutely know whether god exists, then you must concede that it is possible to absolutely know that he doesn’t. It’s either provable or it’s not and it has to go both ways. Actually, it doesn’t. There is a flaw in the logic, just FYI.

    so don’t lose the parachute pants just yet. — a positive comment! Yeah!

    what advancements we see as inevitable and which we see as improbable or unsustainable. — thanks for the anti-thread jack.

    Nature is full of oddities even truer than you think.

    BTW, on the Bible and slavery, it sure isn’t slavery as anyone knew it in the 1800s. If a slave escaped to any of 50 “cities” in a country the area of LA County or the DFW Metroplex they could demand not to be given back to their masters and the law commanded that they not be molested or mistreated because of their status. That isn’t like any modern model of slavery, most of which arose (and are still perpetuated) without the Bible.

  31. 3. Michael – Certainly Slate.com disagrees with some of your lost faith in the “latter-day” element of Mormonism. Its ironic coming from a progressive source that usually preaches a scientific millennium or sorts. Be interesting to see why you (and many others) fell off that tree. I think given the current state of things, there are many things swirling around (swine flu pandemics, collapsing economy, American political unrest) that would solidify a more fervent millennialism in our culture.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2224050

    Vis-a-vis the gay marriage thing. Taking the religious destiny discussion out of this (assuming a heavenly non-interventionist policy at least), it’s hard to know the destiny of the gay movement (which has chosen marriage as its current fight). Some believe it is a red herring to foment a new protected class in order to further intrusions into religious belief and continue to erode a foundation critical to Cultural Marxism (as I do but that’s another discussion). Others sincerely see the injustice of how gay are arbitrarily treated, which they are, some for sound reasons, others not so. Okay. Well how does this end? On one hand you have a dynamic and entrenched social liberal elite coupled with previously discovered and undiscovered underdogs that have seen gains in the past lets just say . . . century? I see no reason why this doesn’t move forward from a cultural standpoint till we have an international “we are the world” moment. The other dialectic moving, however, is the decay of the West from an influence and demographic standpoint. When these two trains collide, its hard to predict who will come out on top. I’m no true Hegelian, because it can be fixed and conspired upon.

  32. Society cannot afford to legitimize the deviancy of homosexuality. The consequences of doing so are frightening.

    Jon, you and I are both serious-minded, tax-paying citizens who care about our families and want to keep them safe. Yet, we’re now at the absurd point where we inhabit each other’s nightmares.

    There should be some sort of prize.

  33. Two men and two women do not a family make. Two gays and two lesbians have no hope whatsoever for a natural family. It just doesn’t work and is doomed to fail.

  34. #39: Jon

    My personal viewpoints about gays and/or lesbians are probably closer to yours than not. However, your posts here are fairly irrational. Scaremongering does not make a very good argument and I think you are completely missing the point.

    No one is proposing that the entire human population is going to become homosexual. For millennia, however, there has always been a certain subset of the population that is gay. Why this is, I don’t know. I have my own theories, but they are just that. I also suspect there there is always going to be a subset of the population that is gay. And in all of the people who I know that are gay, there wasn’t a “choice” to become how they are. For the vast majority, they have felt that way since they were young, and when they finally “came out”, my reaction along with our mutual friends was, “so, I’ve known it all along. They finally admitted it to themselves.”

    In any event, the argument with proposition 8, et al. is NOT whether we should all become gay and thereby have the world “doomed to fail”. It is whether marriage should be extended to them. Despite its historical background, marriage in our society is essentially a political thing implying rights between the two parties. From an eternal perspective, civil marriages are not recognized by God anyway, at least according to my understanding of our teachings. Societal views of marriage slowly evolve over time and, like it or not, our church has always given in and followed suit. Society abhorred polygamy, and we ultimately gave it up even though it was at one point defined as necessary to obtain the Celestial Kingdom. Prophets have taught that interracial marriage was wrong. That eventually changed as well to the point where I have numerous friends in interracial marriages, who work in the temple, etc.

    Our church can still have restrictions. Drinking is legal, yet will keep you out of the temple. Paying a full tithe has nothing to do with and societal law, yet is a church requirement. If our society decides to extend societal benefits to any two people by calling them “married”, the Church can still define what that means. And if the tide of society is going to end up granting gays the right to marry (just like they did in banning polygamy and in making interracial marriages acceptable), fighting against it to the tune of millions of dollars is only going to generate ill-will.

    So, do I understand being gay on a personal basis? No.
    Do I believe that people will have homosexual tendencies in the next life? Probably not, but I don’t presume to know anything about that.
    Do I think that making gay marriage legal will automatically make 100% of the population gay and lead to the end of the earth? Absolutely not.
    Do I think that gay marriage is inevitable in our society? Yes.
    Do I extend the same right for a gay person to define their marriage as I wished my pioneer ancestors had the right for them to define marriage? Yep.
    Do I think that having 2 gay people call themselves marriage will have more of a detrimental effect on my own marriage than Britney Spears’ 50 hour Las Vegas escapade or millions of other examples? Absolutely not.

    My 2 cents.

  35. Moving away from SSM issues, consider the projections that had the LDS Church hitting 70 million members by 2030 and positing inevitable administrative problems as a part of that.

    It seems much more likely that it will be 20 million by 2030 with activity rates closer to 1970 or 1968 than the rates that marked the 1990s. That is an interesting dynamic.

    In addition, will the Church experience a growth surge in another non-North American country that will push the population balance? With Utah go from SLC at 40% LDS, the state at 60% LDS to below 50% LDS in Utah — is that inevitable.

    As for Jon Miranda and MoHoHawaii will SSM result in families, parents and taxpayers who are SSM and conservative as they become interested in our families and want to keep them safe.

    Personally, I’m a bit of a federalist, and believe that we should allow all men and women the freedom of their own conscience, let them marry how, when and who they may. (Taking a riff from the related Article of Faith), though I’m aware of the argument that what has been done to the Boy Scouts will next be done to the LDS Church, a fear many people have and a source of much resistence to gay marriage in certain circles.

    Will the economic downturn have the same effect on the U.S. as economic downturns had on the Gay 90s (the 1890s) and the Roaring Twenties (1920s)? Could very well return the United States to a 1940s morality and set of attitudes (which led to the revolution in the 1960s).

    May not too. Forces and counterforces, not cycles and inevitable progress.

  36. #35:

    If you believe it is possible to absolutely know whether god exists, then you must concede that it is possible to absolutely know that he doesn’t. It’s either provable or it’s not and it has to go both ways. Actually, it doesn’t. There is a flaw in the logic, just FYI.

    It doesn’t serve the discussion very much to tell somebody they’re wrong without elaborating why. I’m curious, what is the flaw in the logic?

  37. Aaron, saying you can prove a positive does not mean that you can prove a negative (and the reverse is true as well — many theories can be conclusively disproven, but not conclusively proven). And if the positive can be proven, that implies that the negative can be disproven (which pre-empts its being proven).

    For example, I can easily prove that there is at least on gold ring in my house (since it is on my hand). By proving that, I establish that the negative is conclusively not possible of proof (because if there is a gold ring on my hand, and it is in the house, then it is impossible to prove that there is no gold ring in the house) and it is otherwise very difficult to conclusively disprove.

    It doesn’t serve the discussion very much for someone to assert they are right without being able to elaborate why (and he didn’t), especially when it is a pretty clear error, on the order of saying that orange is yellow+blue (instead of yellow+red).

    Anyway, hope that answers your question.

  38. Thanks for the response Stephen. That makes sense (to a point); however, I don’t think that your reasoning applies in this particular case because you can’t prove that God exists in the same way you can prove that there is a gold ring in your house. Brjones can correct me if I am wrong here, but I think his point was that because you can’t prove or disprove the existence of God, you can’t say that you “know” that he exists or that he doesn’t.

  39. “Proof” of anything is a difficult topic. Even things which we accept as facts may change tomorrow if new evidence arises.

    2 comments on “proof” of God:

    1) This is even more difficult to “prove”. I haven’t actually heard any “proof” of God that is actually valid (ie. watchmaker, etc.) But that’s not actually the point of religion. We had “proof” of God in the preexistance, as we lived with Him. Apparently, however, it is impossible to develop whatever it was we needed to develop that way, hence the veil. Because of this, FAITH is the first principle of the gospel. It’s things we hope for but don’t see. As we go through life, we may have good feelings, we may have various experiences, etc. which may increase our level of certainty that there is a God, but I daresay that very few people ever reach 100% certainty. So saying that you can ABSOLUTELY KNOW that God exists is, in my opinion, a very difficult thing to claim short of being Joseph Smith or Moses or someone similar. I know I’m certainly far, far away from that.

    2) As far as the claim that being absolutely able to know something is true implies the converse, that it is also therefore absolutely possible to know the opposite, is completely against the rules of logic.

    And following up on the absence of a way to “disprove” God, I don’t know that that is possible. One may build up a strawman of what attributes God “must” have and find where these are false, but one can never know if this is a “proof” or just faulty initial assumptions. As far as a church, however, this is what detractors attempt to do. Given that the BofM is the “keystone” of our religion, if it can be “disproven”, the whole thing falls apart. In this case, I would think it is actually easier to “prove” that the Church was false than true with “factual” things. Obviously, spiritual experiences allow enough people to feel it is true that they join, but it can’t be “proven” true. The question here is how you account for the fact that people also have spiritual experiences confirming their non-LDS religions as well. How do you explain that?

  40. Even direct experience of God does not disprove God as a strong or a weak Bonewits construct. You are right, the proofs people use, from direct experience on down, are not necessarily as valid as they think, the same with the disproofs.

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