Truth vs Well Being

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Dino Boshnjak's picture
Truth vs Well Being

Recently I was intercepted by two Mormon missionaries in Slovenia and had this 20 minute fruitful conversation that ended converging on an interesting point where I admitted that although I care about the truth I care more about the well being of people. Even if that means for some people believing in far-fetched stories, as long as they are not imposed on other people or lead to bad things I have no problem with that.
Thinking about it, these two lovely young ladies had came all the way from the US convinced that it is a worthy goal in life to spread the teachings of the Mormon church said a lot about them. Being a missionary by definition your goal is to encourage more people to join your faith, although when I asked them why do you think being a missionary is a good thing they've answered that they are only trying to make people happy. But the ultimate question is does it really make people happy if they are comforted by false beliefs? Or knowing the truth is more relevant? After all such a false comfort may not last in the long run.

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Jeff Vella Leone's picture
Any kind of theistic god is

Any kind of theistic god is evil in nature.

This is like saying that if believing in the good Hitler makes you happy, then do so.
The truth is that he is not good, so your own selfishness is just a way to cloud your judgments.

If the need arises for you to make a decision, things like theism should not be allowed to cloud your judgment.

This is one of the reasons why we have to debate gay rights and indoctrination, etc..
Theism makes people loose their sanity without knowing it, since theists think they are living in a dream world.

They loose touch with reality and it results in making horrible decisions.

goodspear's picture
Do you believe in atoms? Have

Do you believe in atoms? Have you ever seen them? The INVISIBLE God made everything you see that is visible.

ImFree's picture
Do you believe in Noah's Ark?

Do you believe in Noah's Ark?

goodspear's picture
I believe in what God says

I believe in what God says therefore I believe it existed, yes.

ImFree's picture
What about Egypt? They have a

What about Egypt? They have a written history that precedes, is co-existent with, and which continues uninterruptedly after the time of the Flood, yet somehow they were unaware of that catastrophic global event. The most common date given for the flood is 4400 years ago, right in the middle of the Egyptians first burst of city and temple building, why did they not notice they were under water? The same is true for the Chinese and other cultures. How did a global Flood somehow ignore them, leaving their societies intact?

Dino Boshnjak's picture
Hey Ronda,

Hey Ronda,

I'm a student of chemistry and everything you see that is visible is made of atoms.

The question of existence of atoms was finally settled in 1905 by Albert Einstein when he developed the first mathematical analysis of Brownian motion, where Jean Perrin was able to use the math to experimentally determine the mass and dimensions of atoms. From that point on atoms were no longer subject to opinion and personal belief and the atomic theory of matter stood on very firm scientific ground.

If you are not familiar with this don't worry you can research it later on the web, however the interesting thing is that since then a lot has happened in the progress of the atomic model itself and amazingly so by using a cool new device called the quantum microscope recently we were able to actually gaze upon the distribution of the electron cloud in Hydrogen, which is insane considering until now we used the Shrodinger equation to actually simulate the very same distribution. Two other methods to detect atoms are STM and crystallography, so check them out if you are interested.

Thus to note that there is important distinction between concept which can be tested and verified for the likelihood of being true like the atom and concept which the likelihood of being true is the same as any other hypothesis like God. To believe in hypothesis that doesn't agree with experiments and/or was overrun by time rendering so unlikely by the lack of evidence that we might as well call it false or irrational is what I mean when I say false belief.

Andrew McArthur's picture
Thank you Tuvok, I was going

Thank you Tuvok, I was going to recommend an electron microscope, but was uncertain about the resolution.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Ronda - "Do you believe in

Ronda - "Do you believe in atoms?"

Yes, I accept that atoms are real.
Ronda - "Have you ever seen them?"

Yes, of course I've seen them.

Travis Hedglin's picture
Ronda - "Do you believe in

Ronda - "Do you believe in atoms?"


Ronda - "Have you ever seen them?"

Yep. Looking at some right now. They are attempting to disguise themselves as a computer monitor, the sneaky bastards...

Edit: My own post made me laugh so hard I just sprayed soda everywhere, damnit.

Mitch's picture
Isn't 'evil' a concept born

Isn't 'evil' a concept born of theism, though? If you define theistic gods as 'evil', don't you risk perpetuating some of the very behaviors you protest?

Dino Boshnjak's picture
I often avoid arguing

I often avoid arguing semantics when I understand a point, but you are right for there to be evil there has to be the concept of free will, which although we live as though we have it free will has no real basis in reality.

What is important though is that replacing evil God with benevolent one, will not do you good. Because they are both morally fallible (since what was moral yesterday is not moral today and so on) and in both cases you have to surrender your critical faculties in order to believe it. And when you do that you loose touch with reality and it results in making horrible decisions.

So in a sense Jeff is saying that truth is more relevant, because ultimately it leads to better well being. But as we discussed down below that would not be true for some cases and it is a tough choice indeed to separate those cases. And although logic dictates that I should throw those drones down the rails to stop the train from killing many others, that I cannot do, I'll rather search for another way to save them.

Pitar's picture
Missionaries are cultural

Missionaries are cultural genocidal maniacs. Smile a lot and slowly back away. I do this leaving them thinking there's something wrong with them, which is the unspoken truth of the moment.

goodspear's picture
The mormons believe you have

The mormons doctrine believe you have to work your way to heaven and their founder was a man. This is a religion taught by demons, not a relationship with Jesus who already did the work for us on the cross. (Though they are very nice and follow some basic principal truths of the Bible)

Mitch's picture
I think, Tuvok, that the

I think, Tuvok, that the sentiment in your opening comment can be summed up in a few words: live and let live, because in the end, we're all equal. This is a reasonable proposition to me. Except, I'm not the one who needs convincing.

Those people doing missionary work did not travel to Slovenia to make you happy ( a claim that is more than a little dubious, given that they likely could have made you much happier had they simply sent you the dollar equivalent of their travel expenses ). They have no idea what makes you, or 'people' for that matter, happy.

No. Rather, they came to satisfy themselves. The Mission operates on the presumption that life without the Mission is unsatisfactory - as deemed by itself - and seeks to offer you a chance to become subservient to it. You are currently of little value to the Mission, and so, it seeks to make you valuable to its purposes. Not unlike the Borg - which at least makes its intentions plain. I'm aware that that is not a totally fair comparison; I digress.

An attempt to convert you could be - and often is - an attempt to demean you as an independent person, which is comparable to telling you to tone it down, go away, and just be less... you. A request to shrivel. So then, does attempted conversion run counter to your own personal values? It does mine. And I value my freedom to speak how I feel. So I will. Even to lovely young ladies from the US.

Dino Boshnjak's picture
Actually the Borg is a very

Actually the Borg is a very good analogy.

I mention to them that we should be able to change our minds in light of new evidence, so we shouldn't be mindless drones. To my surprise they agreed and actually liked the comment very much, though what they didn't like was my explanation afterwards on what valid evidence actually represent.

And I'm aware of the true driver behind the Mission, but I don't want to presume that they are also. I think gullible people often deceive themselves by not being able to recognize the true motive of their actions or by replacing it with something of their liking not being able to admit it and thus being honest in their lies. A drone will not do what it does if it had the capacity to override the instructions. If the drone override the instructions like Seven of Nine and still wants to do what it does, then whatever was before the drone is gone. But even in the extreme case of Seven of Nine, I think there is hope for this particular kind of drone since it is now able to reason honestly and change its behavior and find a rational pathway, which was indeed the case in ST. However Annika Hansen would have never restored her humanity if she wasn't in the right environment like the crew of the Enterprise. So it depends on many factors whether these girls would restore the capacity to reason honestly.

Though I always ask my self which is why I made this thread, if you help some drone escape the Collective in the wrong environment would it be able to survive? That is to say, is it not better in some case to let someone be for the sake of his well being by not interfering? Or is it better to risk it, since the life as a drone is not a valid one?

Mitch's picture
It's a tough call. I think

It's a tough call. I think there is no definite way to know how proposing atheisim to someone might affect them. It might not. I think we do the best we can with what we have, and so I'm inclined to challege like I would like to be challeneged.

But then, circumstance is a very significant factor, so it's likely you made the best possible choice for you at the time.

hermitdoc's picture
I think that missionary work

I think that missionary work is simply another form of indoctrination. After all, if you go to all the effort of traveling half-way across the globe, what your are going there to talk about must be important and therefore true. I'm pretty sure that most of the LDS missionary kids don't go because they really want to. Like most teenagers, I'm sure they would rather hang out with their friends and do real teenager stuff. An analogy to missionaries from my occupation is "drug meals", where drug companies sponsor a meal at a fancy restaurant where some "expert" talks to a group of physicians about some latest and greatest drug. On the face of it, the purpose of the event is to get the physicians in the audience to prescribe the drug, but in reality, the real target is the speaker. Studies have shown that the speaker is far more likely to prescribe the drug than any of the audience members and his(or her) prescribing rates of the drug go up after he(or she) gives the talk. Missionary work is, of course more nefarious than this, because the docs at the meal go there willingly. The poor schmucks who make the mistake of answering their door when the well dressed young people knock have no idea what they're in for.

Dino Boshnjak's picture
It's very good analogy.

But what if one of the docs stand up and point out the flaws in the drug that the speaker is advertising? I would guess that can affect the other physicians in the audience, but would it affect the speaker it self? Or the speaker is blinded because receives financial payment to advocate the thing thus not being interested in the truth?

hermitdoc's picture
I completely agree with

I completely agree with pointing out flaws in the presentation, whether it be a missionary or a doc hawking a drug. The effectiveness of that tactic will certainly vary from person to person. My original point was that I think missionary work (especially LDS missionary work) is more about cementing the belief of the missionary than it is about recruiting more followers.

Dino Boshnjak's picture
Yeah, I agree with your point

Yeah, I agree with your point and thank you for the insight. It may very well be the case that some structures of irrational beliefs are so ridiculously tall relative to reality that they need large base of indoctrination and constant reinforcement to make sure they don't tumble down.

Andrew McArthur's picture
Some years ago I married into

Some years ago I married into a very large family of evangelical Christians. Most of my nieces and nephews do missionary work for their church, building houses for the poor in other countries and such. On the surface it's very hard to find fault with this kind of service, however in order to qualify for a house, the family being helped must undergo sixteen weeks of family and religious training in the beliefs of this particular sect. To me this sucks any idea of altruism out of the experience. Though they try to portray these missions as unselfish, at the core they are simply another tool to ensnare the minds of innocent people who through no fault of their own have found themselves in dire circumstances. True charity is not all tied up with strings.

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