Friday, December 10, 2010

Belief

In the culture that I grew up in, belief was treated as a virtue. It was important to believe in God and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It was bad to ask too many questions, or to be too skeptical. Even today, I feel slightly guilty for expecting religious claims to be backed up by logic and evidence. I don't think that this is necessarily a Mormon thing. I've noticed it in American culture in general (I can't speak for other countries), especially this time of year. Christmas movies are full of statements about belief.




All these movies, of course, are about Santa Claus. I haven't believed in Santa Claus in years. But I believed in God and Jesus and Joseph Smith until about a year ago. Why is it that grownups don't believe in Santa Claus anymore, but so many still believe in God-- when there's about the same amount of evidence for God as there is for Santa Claus? At least I got presents from Santa under my tree. God doesn't even have that to his credit.

I'd like to talk about this whole "seeing is/isn't believing" bit. I don't necessarily think that seeing is believing. I believe in lots of things without having seen them-- the existence of New York, for example. But beliefs have to be based in reality. They have to be based on evidence, and they have to stand up to evidence against it. I've never seen any evidence to refute the existence of New York, but there is lots of evidence that refutes the veracity of Mormonism and the existence of God.

Why is it that our culture places such great value on believing? An honest person doesn't believe something because he or she wants to believe that. They believe what they believe because they find the evidence, arguments, etc. for that belief to be convincing. Anyone who would try to make himself or herself believe something, in spite of evidence against it, just because they wanted to believe it, is being foolish and dishonest.

Okay. Now I've completely poo-pooed Christmas. I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge. Bleh.

1 comment:

  1. I think Ebenezer says "BAH HUMBUG!" ;)

    Belief is a very hard thing to deal with, when it becomes apparent that the thing we held so dear is so clearly not true. Do you remember how you felt that first christmas you didn't believe in Santa? I do, I didn't tell my parents for 3 years. The 3 year my Dad asked me if I believed, then before I could answer said, "you know, Santa doesn't bring presents to those who don't believe." How cruel! My answer was that the idea of Santa is what I believe in.

    I have to still feel the same way now, its the idea of Christ that I have to celebrate christmas with. Hope you have a fantastic holiday season!

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