The conversations on there provide good blog fodder.
I was Roaming around on Facebook the other day, when I came across a conversation one of my former students was having with another person. I don’t know how it ended up on my home page, being that I was a third party onlooker not directly involved in the conversation, but there it was.
Supposedly this third person had tried to show Mormons how Mormonism is false, and my former student was taking exception with this. Being that the conversation took place on a wall I did not have access to, I could not comment on the conversation myself, but that doesn’t stop me from making a blog post out of it….:)
Here are some of the things my former student said, and my responses:
“Intolerable Christians.” (this was his first comment)
What do you mean by “intolerant”?
Judging by the other things he was saying, he was attempting to correct the other person (I’m going to call him “Steve” from here on out for matters of convenience) for saying another religion is wrong. In other words, he was saying that claiming another’s religious beliefs are false is out of line, ie, intolerant. Which, ironically, was the very thing he was doing to Steve.
Steve had a religious belief that it is ok to correct/critique false beliefs. This, in fact, is a main part of the Christian religion. Christianity has always been an evangelizing religion. Part of the Great Commission itself is persuading people to drop their false beliefs and idols and pick up belief in and worship of Jesus Christ. Christians could be mistaken about Jesus, for sure, but those who claim the persuasion efforts of Christians are intolerant are, in fact, trying to do the very same thing: persuade the evangelizing Christians that their missionary beliefs, values, and actions, are false. Which means my former student was, by his own definition, being intolerant.
Now, I don’t think he was actually intolerant. It’s ok to try to persuade others that what you believe is true. The culprit was not his persuasive impulse, but his faulty definition of intolerance.
“I don’t support shoving my religion onto other people”
Again, what do you mean by “shoving religion down other people’s throats?” If, by that, you mean trying to persuade others that your beliefs are true and theirs false, I guess Steve was guilty as charged, but also again, that would mean that my former student was likewise doing the same thing. The minute he interjected and started calling Steve “intolerant” and implying that he was “shoving religion down another’s throat,” he was seeking to persuade Steve to stop that. That is, he was trying to correct Steve. “Intolerant” and “you are shoving religion…” are not compliments, so how else can I understand that?
If, on the other hand, my former student was accusing Steve of calling Mormons names, shouting, mocking, or getting angry at Mormons, then Steve was not guilty. Steve’s only remarks on Facebook was how he thought Mormon belief was illogical, unscientific, and factually false. Not once did he call names or anything like that. He focused on the beliefs, not trashing the person.
I guess someone could reply that I wasn’t there, and maybe Steve did call names and such. However, the same could be said about my former student: he wasn’t there either. The only information I have to go on is the very same information he had to go on, and given what we were both privy to, there’s no reason to charge anyone with “shoving” anything down anyone’s throat.
“It seems to me that he was not being very accepting of the differences of the Mormon religion. Instead he attempted to show them his religion (Christianity) was true when he has no definite proof that either religions are right/wrong.”
Ahhh, there it is. The ‘ol “no proof” charge. A few things:
First, having no proof of your own beliefs doesn’t make your persuasive enterprise intolerant or bigoted. It might make you irrational and foolhardy, but not judgmental.
Second, what does he mean by “proof”? If by that he means indubitably certain, unassailable, uh, proof that can’t be doubted, then not only does the Christian religion not have proof behind it, but virtually no belief whatsoever, save, perhaps, belief in one’s own existence, has proof behind it. Even obvious things like belief in the external world or belief that murder is wrong or belief that I had chicken for dinner tonight are subject to doubt and are not indubitable. But those beliefs are incredibly solid. This just means that certainty is not a requirement of proof.
But if he means evidence, reasons, and arguments that makes a belief more sound than its opposite, then of course Christianity has proof to it! There’ s lots of stuff out there on this question. For starters, I recommend this website. Or this book.
And while we’re at it, how does my former student know there’s no proof? Has he read deeply of the history of philosophy and science? Has he read the copious literature on the formation of the Bible? What scholars has he read? William Alston, or Alvin Plantinga, perhaps? Has he attended any debates, such as this one? Has he done any deep research on big bang cosmology or the anthropic principle?
If not, how can he claim with any sort of confidence that there is “no proof”? Perhaps he can say that he, himself, hasn’t encountered any proof, but that wouldn’t be saying much.
“Not the belief itself is intolerant. The fact that people don’t listen to others and try to force their religion upon others is intolerant.”
Ok, but how is merely seeking to persuade, or thinking Mormonism hopefully false, mean Steve wasn’t listening?
“Because there is no definite proof. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that is part of the definition of belief. Accepting something is true even though there is no solid proof.”
He is wrong. The definition of belief is a statement or proposition that one holds to be true. Proof/evidence/reason may or may not be along for the ride, but merely believing something doesn’t mean proof is nowhere to be found. Otherwise, my former student would be just as guilty of having no proof. My former student has beliefs, yes? In particular, that “part of the definition of belief is accepting something without proof,” and “it is wrong to shove your religion down someone’s throat,” right? I guess, by his own definition, those two things are without “proof,” and his efforts at persuading Steve that those beliefs are worthy of accepting is intolerant.