A few highlights. He talks about 3 childhood beliefs he held that created a belief heuristic or shortcut for him, one that prevented him from spiritual development. Here they are:
He explains the concept of an anchoring heuristic:1 - Satan can hear every word I say but can never read my mind.
2 - If I repent and am forgiven, and then commit the same sin again, my previous repentance will be revoked.
3 - If a prophet or Church leader tells me to do something that is wrong, and I do it anyway, then I will be blessed for my obedience and the Church leader will be punished.
He concludes:These are all examples of what cognitive scientists now call the “anchoring heuristic.” A heuristic is a mental shortcut that we use to use to make decisions quickly, without putting a lot of thought into them because a rule of thumb usually produces answers that are good enough for our immediate needs. The anchoring heuristic causes us to take an initial piece of information and use it as a reference point for future deliberations. We may move away from the anchor a little bit, but the initial information defines our range of possible responses.
Some of the most profoundly religious people I know no longer consider themselves to be religious believers at all. And there is a specificity to these non-beliefs. My friends who used to be Catholic see the world very differently than my friends who used to be Evangelical or who used to be Mormon. The anchors of faith persist, even in unbelief.
This, I think, is one of the reasons that I still define myself as a believer, and generally a contented one. I am not the same kind of believer that I used to be. I no longer talk to God in code in order to fool Satan. I see repentance as something very different than double-entry accounting. And I no longer look to the institutional Church to relieve me of my responsibility to exercise moral reason. I am pretty sure that I have lifted up dozens of the anchors that once defined my faith. Maybe even hundreds.
But there are thousands more holding me firmly in place in ways that I do not fully understand. These anchors don’t define me as a person, or even as a person of faith. But they do create the space in which my spiritual journeys must occur, and they constrain, but not completely, the routs that they must take.