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For several months, during my stay in the US and also in Portugal, during May 2001, I had the chance to meet lots of people from the LDS faith. I had the best welcoming by this people that I ever had in my life. Either in Portugal or in the US Iíve found almost all of them to be overly bright, happy and sensitive to othersí needs. I was so thrilled with the moral qualities of the people, ecstatic with the level of civilization of the community and in love with a certain girl, that I eventually joined the community. Unfortunately it is based on false (although perhaps beautiful) premises. I had always problems with trusting inner revelation (how do you distinguish true from false revelation), the life of Joseph Smith, and priesthood keys (the fact that you need an external symbol to make an internal commitment valid, be it baptism or sealing). In the end some personal problems and specially reading Brodieís book No Man Knows My History, reopened my eyes to the wide, wide world! It is a beautiful religion and it is telling of our times that so many people deride it. So..., it is probably based on a lie. Look around you! What isnít?
Of course this doesn't mean that everything is an illusion, and even less that we shouldn't strive for truth. For I believe we are, as individuals and as a community, able to define and achieve our objectives better when we are free from illusions and we have a solid foot on reality.
My only point is that our current lives are already filled up with illusions. What is the difference between a person born in Chile and a person born in the States? There is none, no one is more worthy of living on account of having been born on a certain place or from certain parents, nonetheless, we are much more concerned with the food we have rather then with the food 'they' have. ('They' means however we are not concerned about.) What is the difference between winning one team or the other? Do you really need that new car? And if TV doesn't give you what you want why do you still watch it? We are all submerged in false believes about what is important (you must see that show, you must buy x,y,z, etc, etc) and what is not. But just a little common sense should be sufficient to tell you that the fact that people are dying of hunger ten thousand miles way doens't make it less hurtful than if they were by your door. That TV and all other vices are grabbing because you use them all the time. And nevertheless, although you know that things are really not like that, you prefer to be an American, to buy your Car, to see those three hours plus of TV..., and why? Because it gives you more pleasure, because it gives you a way to see the world where everything is clear and fitting to your homemade desires, because it is too hard to do it any other way. Just like it is hard to see that the chicken on your plate passed a life of horror to get to you.
When I'm saying the Mormon church is no more a lie than everything else, I'm not saying it's less of an illusion, I'm saying that it is insufficient to point to the Mormon church (or any other Church) and say how lunatic they all are, because we are all in the same boat. We are all 'lunatics', if you will. To get out of this game of getting easy pleasure by feeding on easy lies we need much more than criticism, we need understanding and wit. And understanding, in this case, means that we should see churches, nations, parties and cultures (including the ones we belong to) as ways of evolving - through a creed, thats for sure - but to a destination that is not a creed but an improved level of understanding, and a certain attitude. More free, more truthful and more aware.
Science is easily a better way to 'get out of the game', but not necessarily so. Believing in what science has to say about the way it was created, the least we can say is that there is, with all probability, a very long way to go (perhaps millions of years) before we can get a true grasp of what surrounds us. This makes scientific work even more important, it is one great gift to leave to future generations, one of the greatest that was left to us. But science, like anything else, can be used as an excuse to stay in the game, to close our eyes to all the perplexities that hint at how far we are from the true account of the universe (the mind-body problem is just one of those hints). Therefore, seen as dogmas or as creeds - and at our stage of evolution they cannot be certainties - every theory can only bring blindness. What opens or closes our eyesight is not so much the theory that we expouse, but our openess to 'look ahead'. So, although is may seem obvious that the theory that someone expouses says something about the person's real desire to know the truth, a religious person might be more eager to understand truly the world he is in than a graduate student from a science course (which might only worry about the grades, for instance).
Philosophy, in its greek, original, sense - the love/search/need for truth - is perhaps the best way to 'get out of the game'; although today, in the sense that I'm using the word, there are perhaps more scientists doing 'philosophy' than professional philosophers.
In brief, to get to the truth what we need in the first place is not so much a particular theory but an aspiration. Theories will come after, and will probably continue to come for millions of years (if all goes well), until a real grasp of the world is achieved. Then we will know. Until then, we are all in the same boat, and only the striving distinguishes us.
"The fact that stares one in the face is that people of the greatest sincerity and of all levels of intelligence differ and have always differed in their religious beliefs. Since at most one faith can be true, it follows that human beings are extremely liable to believe firmly and honestly in something untrue in the field of revealed religion. One would have expected this obvious fact to lead to some humility, to some thought that however deep one's faith, one may conceivably be mistaken. Nothing is further from the believer, any believer, than this elementary humility. All in his power...must have his faith rammed down their throats. In many cases children are indeed indoctrinated with the disgraceful thought that they belong to the one group with superior knowledge who alone have a private wire to the office of the Almighty, all others being less fortunate than they themselves." - Hermann Bondi, cited by Paul Davies in God & the New Physics