May 7, 2023

Mormon Funerals

Can you help me group-edit a response essay to empty Mormon platitudes at funerals? This is what I have so far: 

In times of grief and uncertainty, some forces within our culture encourage us to cling to comforting simplistic beliefs and spout empty platitudes. However, even in times of loss, not suppressing doubt or smothering your confidence in the afterlife over everyone else's experience can lead to having a real life, more authentic relationships, and a deeper understanding of reality. This essay will explore various quotes and perspectives that encourage questioning, curiosity, honesty, and healing from a perspective of extreme caution and respect for truth.

My mom passed away on April 8th, and the Mormons say how great it is that I will be with her again and that faith in God is helpful at times like this. 

For instance, a family member recently said, "My sweet Grandma passed away last month...More than anything, I’m grateful for a Savior that allows families to be together forever. Life sure is sweet with a family like mine."

My mom was more than sweet. She was complex, and so is life. 

Even some atheists and agnostics believe that belief gives Mormon mourners an advantage. But is this true, or do Mormon Morners avoid and shame those who mourn?  

1) Doubt and the Absurdity of Certainty

Socrates said: "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing" and “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Voltaire said, "Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd." Is it better to be absurd (without doubt) than sad and confused? I think not. We should not give in to pressure to say God will fix everything.

2) The Courage to Admit Uncertainty and Open Honest Dialogue

Clarence Darrow said: "I don't pretend to know what many ignorant men are sure of." Stephen Hawking said: "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge." These quotes highlight the importance of admitting uncertainty and being open to new ideas. But what does it mean to examine? Do people with all the answers examine life? Does a culture that has all the answers experience life? 

It's OK to admit that you are not OK now, as it is the first step to being OK in the future.

As Richard Feynman said: “I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned.”

3) The Value of Examining Life and Embracing the Unknown

Are there risks that the "put on a happy face" and "God will take care of everything" perspectives will deprive us of genuine emotions and experiences in life, causing us to avoid facing the complexities of our existence and becoming strong enough to acknowledge, accept, and ultimately confront our emotions? Does this cultural norm encourage avoidance? Are shortcuts to easy answers and emotional distance toxic to personal growth and the development of meaningful emotional connections?

Rainer Maria Rilke said: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

4) Balancing Belief and Authenticity

If you are happy and feel comfortable believing that families will be together forever, following all the rules is fine. However, we also need to be sure we are not promoting a culture that shortcuts the grieving process, makes people feel guilty for being sad, or whitewashing our existence, or masking our pain. Maya Angelou said: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Proverbs 14:15 (KJV) says: "The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going." 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (KJV) says: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." I like the advice that we should prove things and not believe "every word."

Do not conform or encourage conformity. Be your authentic self. Feel your feelings, and don't try to paint over them with empty platitudes. Bertrand Russell said: "Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric." Ralph Waldo Emerson said "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

5) The Pursuit of Truth

Sam Harris said: “No society in human history has suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their beliefs.” Winston Churchill said: "The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is." Albert Einstein said: "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." These quotes emphasize the importance of the relentless pursuit of truth and evidence, even when it challenges our beliefs.

6) Quotes from Latter-day Saints Leaders on Inquiry and Investigation

Spencer W. Kimball said: "We should be dauntless in our pursuit of truth and resist all demands for unthinking conformity. No one would have us become mere tape recorders of other people's thoughts." "Education for Eternity," Pre-School Address to BYU Faculty and Staff, September 12, 1967. Unfortunately, most LDS thoughts at funerals require unthinking conformity and "Vain Repetition" (Matthew 6:7), Rameumpt style, of the knowledge that we will see loved ones again (if we doubt our doubts). 

Hugh B. Brown, a counselor in the First Presidency, once said, “I admire men and women who have developed the questioning spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas and stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent – if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition, truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression. This free exchange of ideas is not to be deplored as long as men and women remain humble and teachable. Neither fear of consequence nor any coercion should ever be used to secure uniformity of thought in the church. People should express their problems and opinions and be unafraid to think without fear of ill consequences. We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it.” (Hugh B. Brown, counselor in First Presidency, Speech at BYU, March 29, 1958)

Similarly, President John Taylor encouraged open discussion, stating, "Some people will say; 'Oh, don't talk about it.' I think a full, free talk is frequently of great use; we want nothing secret nor underhanded, and for one, I want no association with things that cannot be talked about and will not bear investigation." President John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 20, p. 264

James E. Talmage quoted “The Intolerant Spirit" when he said: “The man who cannot listen to an argument which opposes his views either has a weak position or is a weak defender of it. No opinion that cannot stand discussion or criticism is worth holding. And it has been wisely said that the man who knows only half of any question is worse off than the man who knows nothing of it. He is not only one sided, but his partisanship soon turns him into an intolerant and a fanatic. In general it is true that nothing which cannot stand up under discussion and criticism is worth defending.” ~ James E. Talmage, editorial. Pittsburgh Leader. November 13, 1919. This sentiment is echoed by President J. Reuben Clark, who stated, "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed" (Clark). By embracing doubt and the pursuit of truth, we can foster authentic relationships and healing, even in times of loss.

Joseph Fielding Smith, a past President of the Church, encouraged honest investigation, stating, "The honest investigator must be prepared to follow wherever the search of truth may lead" (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 388). Similarly, Spencer W. Kimball advised being "dauntless in our pursuit of truth and resist all demands for unthinking conformity" (Kimball, 1967). These perspectives empower individuals to face grief and uncertainty with courage and authenticity.

Hugh B. Brown said: "The Church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts." "An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown," p. 152.

These foster an adult approach to life, open dialogue, and proper understanding, even in grief and uncertainty. It's fine if you want to pretend you know you will see your loved ones again. However, a malnourished and immature culture only allows the vain repetition of the primary answers.

Nov 3, 2012

LDS Church leaders have made too many mistakes to be considered inspired.

Reasons to agree: +
  1. LDS Church Leaders made a mistake when they advocated the practice of Polygamy.
  2. LDS Church leaders have often prophesied things that did not happen. +2
  3. The treatment by LDS leaders to Black men indicates that the church is not inspired +0
  4. Whenever the LDS Church changes doctrine, they admit they made a mistake in the past. The LDS Church has changed doctrines too much for people to worry about following it
  5. LDS Church Leaders made a mistake when they taught the Adam-God Theory. 
  6. LDS Church Leaders made a mistake when they said the Catholic Church was the "Great and Abominable Church of Satan". 
  7. LDS Church Leaders made a mistake when they denied blacks the priesthood until 1978.
  8. LDS Church Leaders made a mistake when they prevented women from giving prayers in Sacrament meetings until 1978. 

Reasons to disagree:

  1. Inspiration does not mean infallibility: LDS Church leaders, being human, are susceptible to making mistakes. These mistakes do not necessarily invalidate their inspiration.
  2. Contextual interpretation: Some actions that are now viewed as mistakes were considered appropriate or necessary within their historical context.
  3. Evolution of doctrines: Changes in doctrines could be seen as signs of growth and evolution, not necessarily mistakes.
  4. Divine timing: Some could argue that changes, such as the inclusion of black men and women in different church roles, came about in the divine timing of God, not at the discretion of church leaders.
  5. Spiritual confirmation: Many followers claim to have received personal spiritual confirmation of the inspiration of the leaders.

Books that agree/disagree:

  1. Agree: "No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith" by Fawn M. Brodie offers a critical look at LDS Church history.
  2. Disagree: "Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball" by Edward L. Kimball provides a faith-affirming perspective of LDS Church leadership.

The interest of those who agree/disagree:

  1. Agree Those who have experienced or observed actions by the LDS Church that they believe were harmful or wrong. This might include former members or critics of the church.
  2. Disagree Current members of the LDS Church who maintain a strong faith and belief in the divine inspiration of the church's leaders.

Unstated assumptions:

  1. Agree: This viewpoint assumes that making mistakes is incompatible with being divinely inspired. It also assumes that doctrinal changes are admissions of past mistakes.
  2. Disagree: This viewpoint assumes that human beings, even if inspired, can make mistakes. It also assumes that changes in doctrines or policies can be reflective of divine inspiration and guidance, adapting to changing societal contexts.

People are born gay. It is wrong to discriminate against people for the way they are born.

Reasons to agree: +
  1. There are biological differences in gay men and lesbians
  2. Biological differences in gay men and lesbians have been observed, suggesting a genetic component.
  3. Studies show that sexual orientation is not a choice.
  4. Discrimination based on sexual orientation violates human rights and promotes inequality.
  1. Some believe that sexual orientation is influenced by environmental factors and upbringing.
  2. Some religious or cultural beliefs argue against homosexuality, leading to discrimination.

Books that agree: +
  1. "Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation" by Simon LeVay
  2. "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion" by Jonathan Haidt
Books that disagree: -
  1. "Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth" by Jeffrey Satinover

Scriptures that agree: +
  1. Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
Scriptures that disagree: -
  1. Leviticus 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination."

Images That agree: +
  1. Political Cartoons: Cartoons showcasing the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and equality, such as those by political cartoonist Mike Luckovich.
  2. Photojournalism: Images from Pride parades around the world or historic moments, like the Stonewall riots, can depict the struggle and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community.
  1. Political Cartoons: Cartoons depicting a traditional family structure (a father, a mother, and children) or those illustrating debates around the implications of redefining marriage.

  2. Photojournalism: Photos of traditional family units, with a male and female parent, often with children, engaging in family activities. These images might be used to represent their viewpoint on the ideal family structure.

  1. LGBTQ+ community and their allies who seek to end discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  2. Human rights advocates who promote equal treatment for all people.
  3. Promoting equality and inclusivity for all people regardless of sexual orientation.
  4. Ensuring human rights and protection from discrimination. 
Valid Interest of those who disagree: -
  1. Individuals with strong religious or cultural beliefs that condemn homosexuality.
  2. Those who believe that sexual orientation is a choice or can be changed.
  3. Upholding religious or cultural beliefs and traditions.
  4. Concerns about the perceived impact of homosexuality on society.

Videos That agree: +
  1. "Milk" (2008)
  2. "Brokeback Mountain" (2005) 
  1. "The Third Way" (2014)

  1. Focus on the Family (

Podcast that agree: +
  1. "Making Gay History" by Eric Marcus
  2. "One From the Vaults" by Morgan M Page 
Podcast that disagree: -
  1. "The BreakPoint Podcast" by John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris

Unbiased Experts who agree: +
  1. Dr. Simon LeVay, neuroscientist and author
  2. Dr. Dean Hamer, geneticist 
Unbiased Experts who disagree: -
  1. Dr. Paul McHugh, psychiatrist
  2. Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, psychiatrist and author

Unstated assumptions in agreeing/disagreeing:
  1. Assumes that being born gay is a natural and immutable characteristic.
  2. Assumes that discrimination based on sexual orientation is unjust.
  1. Assumes that sexual orientation can be influenced by factors other than genetics.
  2. Assumes that religious or cultural beliefs justify discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.
# of reasons to agree: +0
# of reasons to disagree: -0
# of reasons to agree with reasons to agree: +0
# of reasons to agree with reasons to disagree: -0
Total Idea Score: 0

Don't like the score? It is easy to change the score. Just post a reason to agree or disagree with the overall idea, or any of the reasons and the score will change.

Common Interest:
Opposing Interest:

Related arguments:

Nov 2, 2012

There are biological differences between gays and heterosexuals

a) Unstated Assumptions Required to Accept and Reject this Belief


  1. Sexual orientation, while not a choice, arises from a complex interplay of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences (saying it is "complex" may be problematic. It is not complex for many people, who knew from a very young age that they were gay).
  2. Modern scientific methods and studies are reliable and accurate in identifying these biological differences.


  1. Sexual orientation is a choice and has no biological determinants.
  2. Current scientific studies and methods are not reliable or conclusive in establishing these biological differences.

b) Alternative Ways of Saying the Same Thing:

  1. Biological factors contribute to sexual orientation.
  2. There are physiological variances between gays and heterosexuals.

c) Objective Criteria for Assessing the Validity of this Belief:

  1. Peer-reviewed scientific research and studies.
  2. The consensus among the scientific community.

d) Most Common Shared Interests or Values to Encourage Dialogue and Understanding:

  1. Respect for scientific research and understanding.
  2. Mutual interest in human biology and understanding human diversity.
  3. Shared commitment to understanding the nature of sexual orientation.

e) Most Significant Differences in Interests or Obstacles to Navigate:

  1. Differences in belief about the nature of sexual orientation (choice vs. biology).
  2. Discrepancies in trust or value placed on scientific research.

f) Strategies to Encourage Open Dialogue, Mutual Respect, and a Shared Commitment to Truth:

  1. Encourage respectful dialogue that values scientific contributions while also acknowledging the complexity of human sexuality.
  2. Foster environments where differing opinions can be shared without fear of judgment or disrespect.
  3. Promote education and awareness about scientific research on this topic.


  1. Reasons (logical arguments)
    1. There is a body of scientific evidence supporting the existence of biological differences between gay and heterosexual individuals. For example, studies have shown differences in brain structure and function, as well as in physiological responses.
    2. Sexual orientation might have a biological basis: Numerous scientific studies suggest that certain physiological and anatomical features might differ between gay and heterosexual individuals.
    3. Genetic factors: Twin studies have found that homosexuality is more common in identical twins compared to fraternal twins, suggesting a possible genetic link.
    4. Brain structure: Some research suggests that certain areas of the brain may differ in size between gay and heterosexual individuals.
    1. Complexity of human sexuality: Critics argue that reducing sexual orientation to biology oversimplifies the complexity of human sexuality, which likely involves a mix of genetic, hormonal, environmental, and social factors.
    2. Lack of definitive evidence: Despite numerous studies, there is no single "gay gene" or definitive biological marker for homosexuality.
    3. Influence of environment and personal experience: Some believe that environmental factors and personal experiences play a significant role in determining sexual orientation.
    4. While sexual orientation has biological influences, it is a multi-faceted aspect of human identity that cannot be reduced only to biology.
    5. There is no definitive evidence pinpointing a single biological factor that determines sexual orientation. It is a complex interplay of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences.
  1. Evidence (Data, studies, etc.)
    1. Genetic studies: A study in "Science" magazine (2019) reported genetic variants associated with same-sex sexual behavior, suggesting a genetic component to sexual orientation.
    2. Brain studies: A study by Savic and Lindström (2008) found differences in the symmetry of the brain's hemispheres between heterosexual and homosexual individuals.
    3. Prenatal hormonal theory: Some studies suggest that hormone exposure in the womb could influence sexual orientation.
    1. Twin studies: While these studies show a higher concordance rate for homosexuality among identical twins, the rate is not 100%, suggesting factors beyond just genetics.
    2. Genetic studies: The 2019 "Science" study also noted that genetics could only
  1. Books


  1. "Books such as 'Gay, Straight, and The Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation' by Simon LeVay discuss the variety of factors influencing sexual orientation, highlighting that it isn't a choice but a result of various influences."
  2. "Sexual Orientation and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: Sexual Science and Clinical Practice" by Richard C. Friedman


    1. "Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire" by Lisa M. Diamond
    2. "Bi Lives: Bisexual Women Tell Their Stories" edited by Kata Orndorff

  1. Most likely interests 
Of those who agree
    1. Understanding the biological underpinnings of sexual orientation.
    2. Advocating for the acceptance and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.
    3. Interest in neuroscience, psychology, and human sexuality.
    4. LGBTQ+ rights advocates who believe in the importance of recognizing sexual orientation as an inherent aspect of one's identity.
Of those who disagree
    1. Interest in social constructivist theories of sexuality
    2. Advocacy for individual experiences and narratives in understanding sexual orientation
    3. Criticism of biological determinism
    4. Individuals who hold traditional views of sexuality, often rooted in religious or cultural beliefs, and see sexual orientation as a choice or a result of environmental influences.
  1. Benefits / Costs

    1. Understanding that sexual orientation isn't a choice but arises from a complex interplay of influences can promote empathy and reduce stigma.
    2. More informed perspective on issues related to sexual orientation.


    1. May challenge existing beliefs or values.
    2. May lead to controversial or uncomfortable discussions.
  1. Reasons the Unstated Assumptions Required to Accept this Belief are True
    1. Studies have found correlations between certain physical or genetic traits and homosexuality, highlighting the inherent nature of sexual orientation for many individuals.