Hypothesis: Purely Intellectual Faith Crises aren't crises

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Beefster
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Hypothesis: Purely Intellectual Faith Crises aren't crises

Post by Beefster » 16 Apr 2018, 22:18

When contradictory evidence finds its way into the minds of a believer, it usually does not come with an emotional weight to it, and thus it blows over with a little time or is satisfied by a visit to FAIRLDS or FARMS. Doubts come and go if you still "feel it." The "weight" of an item on one's shelf has nothing to do with its difficulty to reconcile or the amount of mental gymnastics required to fit it in with your worldview, but its emotional impact. Some people are satisfied with apologetics. Other people would rather have apologies.

Religion is an emotional endeavor. People turn to religion because it feels good. Perhaps it's comfortable or familiar. Perhaps it's invigorating. Maybe enlightening or poignant. This is not a bad thing, but that doesn't mean it works for everyone.

The reason we find ourselves in crises of faith is not because we stumbled upon difficult information, but because we feel betrayed by the conflict of information or feel a strong internal conflict with our personal moral compasses. It's the implications of the issue rather than the issue itself. Many people face these sorts of challenges but stay in the church regardless. Why? I ultimately think it's because the issues are just not that distressing to them. The "neo-apologists" like the Givens, Bushman, Prince, Mason, the churchistrue guy, etc... know all the big controversial issues and have perhaps been to the edge and have probably experienced a full-blown faith crisis, but ultimately were not emotionally impacted to a degree sufficient to push them over the edge. Some people have a longer edge due to family relations and such. Some people are eventually pushed over the edge. Not everyone who has a faith crisis should leave the church, but not everyone can stay either.

Even ZelphOnTheShelf's Tanner Gilliland admits that it was ultimately the emotional issues that "gave him the courage" to leave the church. At the end of the day, I think it is the emotional things that bring people toward and push people away from religion. Intellectual issues simply bring closlely-related emotional issues into the spotlight. We are all affected differently. In the words of Curt Sunshine, "There are no intellectual issues. Everything is an emotional issue to someone" (or close enough. I don't want to track down the quote)

Emotion may not be much of a litmus test for truth, but it sure does work as a litmus test for fulfillment and personal happiness. If the church makes you happy and you're okay with the controversial issues, by all means, stay.
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nibbler
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Re: Hypothesis: Purely Intellectual Faith Crises aren't crises

Post by nibbler » 17 Apr 2018, 05:45

A faith crisis might be described as a sudden realization that your worldview is not correct.

People fall all along various spectrum.

It's not my thing but some people love the three hour block and the style of our meetings. What if your world view was the church is perfect, the members aren't, but the church most definitely is perfect. Not only that, but your salvation is dependent on attending church regularly. Let's say that world view goes away.

If you loved the meetings and the culture before the change it will probably be easier to stay even after you no longer believe that participation in the culture is necessary. If you didn't care for the meetings or culture before but muscled through it anyway because you felt your salvation was on the line, suddenly leaving becomes a viable and attractive option. You don't have to find a way to enjoy church.

Of course it's more complicated than even that. Hardly any of us operate as discrete entities. We all have family and friends that are on different parts of the spectrum with different experiences. Maybe someone's salvation is no longer on the table but relationships with others might be.

I'm not sure how I feel about apologists.

The classic apologists seem to enjoy a position of pseudo-authority.

The neo-apologists seem to enjoy a position of pseudo-celebrity. They might not accurately portray what I call "lived" Mormonism but I'm glad they exist. There are people all along the spectrum and the church could use some more unassailable celebrities to give more orthodox members some much needed breathing room.

I'm not sure what's out there for the people that are beyond apologetics.
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AmyJ
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Re: Hypothesis: Purely Intellectual Faith Crises aren't crises

Post by AmyJ » 17 Apr 2018, 06:31

Beefster wrote:
16 Apr 2018, 22:18
When contradictory evidence finds its way into the minds of a believer, it usually does not come with an emotional weight to it, and thus it blows over with a little time or is satisfied by a visit to FAIRLDS or FARMS. Doubts come and go if you still "feel it." The "weight" of an item on one's shelf has nothing to do with its difficulty to reconcile or the amount of mental gymnastics required to fit it in with your worldview, but its emotional impact. Some people are satisfied with apologetics. Other people would rather have apologies.
This makes sense to me. The principles that cause me the most grief are the ones that I have the hardest time incorporating into my narrative - they just don't fit because I can't make sense of them intellectually, or I have no longer have the desire to incorporate them into my personal faith narrative. It doesn't help that a lot of principles are daisy-chained together that may not be the full truth. A tithe payer may or may not have financial crises just like the rest of us. A temple sealing does not make a marriage automatically last for this lifetime or for forever.
Beefster wrote:
16 Apr 2018, 22:18
Religion is an emotional endeavor. People turn to religion because it feels good. Perhaps it's comfortable or familiar. Perhaps it's invigorating. Maybe enlightening or poignant. This is not a bad thing, but that doesn't mean it works for everyone.
Religion is also a cultural endeavor. There are countless instances where religious rules define cultural norms - that is one of the reasons (at least a contributing reason) why we are here. I think that religion is loosing follows in part because people are moving around a lot more/have greater exposure to more cultures, and are using their personal freedom to redefine the cultures they embrace and live in. The culture of StayLDS has influenced my life a lot recently - and there is very little chance that I would have ever met any of you in real life previously.
The movement to "pick your own tribe" through online friends/family, support groups, information on other foreign cultures, and local influences to meet social needs is by definition redefining family cultures - which is creating waves of change through neighborhoods on up.
Beefster wrote:
16 Apr 2018, 22:18
The reason we find ourselves in crises of faith is not because we stumbled upon difficult information, but because we feel betrayed by the conflict of information or feel a strong internal conflict with our personal moral compasses. It's the implications of the issue rather than the issue itself.
I would add that for the "first time in forever" we are having to recreate and/or listen to our personal moral compasses as we strive to figure out "what do we believe, why do we believe it, and what are we going to do about it?" One of the things I have thought a lot about recently, is if there is no/little revelation from God to tell me what to do, and if Satan is just a figurative concept used to describe when we make the worst choices possible in a situation, then what's left? Just me and my choices. I get to tell myself what to do, and use my best judgement to make the choices that will bring me the (known) consequences I want the most in this life in the limited spheres of influence that I can control.
Beefster wrote:
16 Apr 2018, 22:18
Many people face these sorts of challenges but stay in the church regardless. Why? I ultimately think it's because the issues are just not that distressing to them. The "neo-apologists" like the Givens, Bushman, Prince, Mason, the churchistrue guy, etc... know all the big controversial issues and have perhaps been to the edge and have probably experienced a full-blown faith crisis, but ultimately were not emotionally impacted to a degree sufficient to push them over the edge. Some people have a longer edge due to family relations and such. Some people are eventually pushed over the edge. Not everyone who has a faith crisis should leave the church, but not everyone can stay either.

Even ZelphOnTheShelf's Tanner Gilliland admits that it was ultimately the emotional issues that "gave him the courage" to leave the church. At the end of the day, I think it is the emotional things that bring people toward and push people away from religion. Intellectual issues simply bring closlely-related emotional issues into the spotlight. We are all affected differently. In the words of Curt Sunshine, "There are no intellectual issues. Everything is an emotional issue to someone" (or close enough. I don't want to track down the quote)

Emotion may not be much of a litmus test for truth, but it sure does work as a litmus test for fulfillment and personal happiness. If the church makes you happy and you're okay with the controversial issues, by all means, stay.
I think that a lot of uncomfortable things can be stuffed on a the shelf for a long time. I think that part of the decision of whether you stay or go depends a lot on how deeply enmeshed your life is with your religion.
I think a lot depends also on binary thinking. Most people get the cultural memo "be all in, or all out - nothing else matters". If I hadn't found this site, I would be probably figuring a way out and/or tearing my hair out in emotional angst. As it is, there is a valid possibility that my husband will want to divorce me if/when he finds out where my thought processes are - and how far "astray" I have gone. My hope is that my choices to be as honest as I can with be with him without causing him too much distress, and my choices to solidify our marriage will show him that I am striving for a Celestial Level marriage even if I don't believe in the Celestial Kingdom anymore.

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LookingHard
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Re: Hypothesis: Purely Intellectual Faith Crises aren't crises

Post by LookingHard » 17 Apr 2018, 06:36

If you read James Fowler's "Stages of Faith" he would call a faith crisis the progression into another stage. He is careful not to put one over the other as he doesn't seem to see a person in Stage 5 as morally better than a person in Stage 3.

But most of us can attest, in the middle of a "faith crisis" it can be hell, especially for high-demand religions that stress you need to be "all in." It can be a full-scale identity crisis.

I would prefer "belief crisis" for the name instead of "faith crisis", but I am not king of the world.

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On Own Now
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Re: Hypothesis: Purely Intellectual Faith Crises aren't crises

Post by On Own Now » 17 Apr 2018, 07:09

For me, I don't think there is any value in trying to categorize the feelings of other people. We live in a time when people are (or at least notionally are) allowed to feel however they want without being called on the carpet to explain. I don't want hardcore Atheists or all-in LDS Members or Evangelicals or radical Muslims for that matter, applying a set of criteria to me. In turn, I try not to do that to them.

I am who I am. That I AM has shifted several times since my initial faith crisis. I can't even figure myself out half the time.

I know people who are non-religious. I know people who are very religious. I know people who are anti-religious. Among each of those groups I've known really wonderful people and some real jerks.

When it comes to faith, I don't want to be labeled, therefore, I don't label others. I'm not a fan of the using the Stages of Faith to describe ourselves or others, for example, because to me that's applying a generalization to individuals, which we usually decry as prejudice.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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Re: Hypothesis: Purely Intellectual Faith Crises aren't crises

Post by dande48 » 17 Apr 2018, 07:28

I'd say nothing is purely intellectual at all. People arrive at conclusions largely from emotion, and then come up with "logical" reasons as to why those conclusions are right. If someone arrives at a wrong conclusion, especially a religious one, it's almost never due to an error in reason. I wish people would understand that more. It's why both religious and political arguments are so... stupid. Both sides feel the other has made a grave error in logic, and can be swayed by the right argument. And it never works.
Last edited by dande48 on 17 Apr 2018, 08:01, edited 2 times in total.
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LookingHard
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Re: Hypothesis: Purely Intellectual Faith Crises aren't crises

Post by LookingHard » 17 Apr 2018, 07:58

dande48 wrote:
17 Apr 2018, 07:28
I'd say nothing is purely intellectual at all. People arrive at conclusions largely from emotion, and then come up with "logical" reasons as to why those conclusions are right. If someone arrives at a wrong conclusion, especially a religious one, it's almost never due to an error in reason. I wish people would understand that more. It's why both religious and political arguments are so... stupid. Both sides feel the other has made a grave error in logic, and can be swayed by the right argument. And it never works.
If you have not read Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion", you would like it.

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Re: Hypothesis: Purely Intellectual Faith Crises aren't crises

Post by Roy » 18 Apr 2018, 07:24

I remember reading Rough Stone Rolling maybe a year before my assumptive world collapse. Perhaps my biggest takeaway was that JS did not know the future. It sounds kinda silly but I had been taught and had internalized an idea that JS had supernatural wisdom and knowledge. This information was somewhat distressing but not overwhelming. Mormonism still worked for me. God still reigned in His heavens. I held the priesthood of God - which gave to me both a sacred responsibility and the power to call down the blessings of heaven on my families behalf. It was a stable and good life.

So in that respect, I agree with you Beefster. I was able to shelve or even accommodate the new information. After all, a prophet does not need to know the future in order to be a true representative of God and surely we cannot hold JS responsible if the stories about him since his death have grown to legendary status.

I do however feel that this might apply less to other people. For example some people seem to believe in full honesty much more than I do. They seem to take much more offense and trouble at the selective honesty that they discover in church history. Therefore, I do believe that for some people a purely intellectual faith crises might be damaging enough to produce a cascade or domino effect.

I suppose with that different people find fulfillment and belonging in the church through different means. It should not surprise us when those different people react differently to the same point of contradictory information.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

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Re: Hypothesis: Purely Intellectual Faith Crises aren't crises

Post by DancingCarrot » 18 Apr 2018, 12:58

I'm confused at your term "purely intellectual". In dealing with people, I have no such experiences with any human that is purely intellectual, even on a single issue, despite how intelligent they are. Humans are designed to have and run on emotions. Even intellectual humans. Insinuate to any "intellectual" person that they might not be as intellectual as they think they are, plus throw in a bit of evidence for a good time, and watch the emotions flow. I would know because "intellectual" is one of the identities I claim.
Beefster wrote:
16 Apr 2018, 22:18
The "neo-apologists" like the Givens, Bushman, Prince, Mason, the churchistrue guy, etc... know all the big controversial issues and have perhaps been to the edge and have probably experienced a full-blown faith crisis, but ultimately were not emotionally impacted to a degree sufficient to push them over the edge. Some people have a longer edge due to family relations and such. Some people are eventually pushed over the edge. Not everyone who has a faith crisis should leave the church, but not everyone can stay either.
I think it's helpful to remember that "the edge" is not something that everyone experiences, both inside and out of the church. Some people are better equipped to cope with human frailties and misdeeds. Indeed, I would say that people who tend largely towards the intellectual side of the spectrum are less adept at this. That tendency makes dealing with things like a belief crisis even more difficult.

At the end of the day, I think people stay where they are or venture to new pastures because of what they believe in. For whatever logical/illogical reasons, they feel certain emotional attachments to what they find meaning in. It's what we all do as humans. It's us exercising our agency. In Mormonspeak, learning to become wielders of our agency, learning to deal with consequences, and discovering how relational our world really is is one of the biggest aspects of the PoS.
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. -Dumbledore

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine. Together we can see what we will find. -Mumford & Sons

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Re: Hypothesis: Purely Intellectual Faith Crises aren't crises

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Apr 2018, 18:37

For someone whose testimony is primarily intellectual (and I know some people in various denominations and religions, including the LDS Church, who fit this category), a faith crisis easily could be intellectual. I had an hour-long conversation just this week in person with a young man who fit some this category fairly well (not LDS), and he obviously values greatly his ability to understand his religious beliefs intellectually. Frankly, I think his particular perspective is not rational, but he created an intellectual justification for it - and I only pushed back because he asked me for my perspective.

I don't want to cause a faith crisis for him, for even more reasons than normal which I can't explain here, but one of the biggest reasons is that I am not sure if he has a strong enough foundation to remain involved if it cracks - and, right now, leaving his religious community would be devastating for multiple reasons.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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