October 23, 2009

Past & Future Behavior

As a student of psychology, I'm interested in what makes people tick. Understanding why people do what they do is the most basic concentration of my discipline, along with eventually being able to predict behavior (some take it even further and argue that the ultimate goal is to control behavior, which is probably at least partially true).

One thing most people tend to agree on is that a person's past behavior can often tell us a lot about present and future behavior. That's why character witnesses are called in trials before deciding on guilt, why we get asked about our past work history in job interviews, why colleges want to know our high school GPA before admitting us, and so on. Past behavior often (though not always) is predictive of future behavior. If a person has been fired from the last four jobs, the interviewer has pretty good reason to believe that he won't do much better in this job.

Similarly, looking through Joseph Smith's character before the founding of the LDS church may give us some insight into the type of person he was. Of course, all believers are aware of the stories of him refusing alcohol for his leg operation, reports of his strength of character, his spiritual mindedness, etc. But what about his profession of locating buried treasure for a fee (source)? The fact that he told trusting individuals that he had the ability to see things that no one else could see, and then was unable to deliver the promised goods, I think, tells us quite a bit about his character (discussion and history).

Whether he believed he could see more than others is for another discussion. My point is that he was able to convince people that he had special powers, and not by actually delivering anything. Smith was actually fairly successful in getting money out of people who trusted him. And so what does this tell us about his later behavior? Did he make the most of his ability to convince others of anything he wanted? Did he really have special powers? Was it just a short step from getting people to believe he saw buried treasure to convincing them that he had visions of angels?

What was his motivation in peeping through stones before the Book of Mormon? Was it God's will that he look for treasure? Was it to better mankind? Or was it for a quick buck? And again, what does this tell us about Smith's character?

10 comments:

Nick said...

The Treasure seeking/digging superstitious activity and claim to see/hear things others can't is no different from Fortune Tellers/Mediums/Horroscope writers etc.

In fact Patriarchal Blessings are a form of horroscope/fortune telling Mediumship and seem to be biased to condition the recipient into staying loyal as a condition of its great promises and fulfillment.

Back in Smith's time it seems that many had these 'peep/seer' stones and even dowsing rods. Olivery Cowdery is supposed to have been a dowser.

There is a reference to him in D&C8:6 referring to this Rod as 'Gift of Aaron'(sounds kind of biblical).

However, In the orginal D&C (1833 Book Of Commandments) it referred to it as 'working with the Rod' and 'this Rod of Nature' lol

Dowser Rod?

Just look today around the world, we still have people using dowser rods, twigs,sticks etc and claiming to find hidden things normally unseen to the natural eye.

We even have an International Star called Uri Geller who claims a supernatural power and further claims that we all have it, but mysteriously only he seems to be able to tap into it and make alot of money too? lol

Hannah said...

Eli,
may I offer something that has been on my mind today? We know you have left the church by your choice, and we don't object to that. You know your reasons, and I have never questioned the personal validity of your decision. There is no need to prove to us that you had reason to think the gospel, Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith are false. That's what you believe, but when you say it isn't your intent to tear down the faith of those you know/love, I find this blog to be a bit perplexing. If you want to convince yourself of the correctness of your decision I would think a personal journal might be more suiting. Otherwise, I just feel that a better use of energy would be to find whatever truth there is that you do believe in - Gospel or not - because what use is it to focus on those things that you believe to be lies?
I hope you will not condemn this comment for any imperfections, and please know that we all still love you, and you are still my brother.
-Hannah

Eli said...

Response to Hannah: I take no offense at your comment. I appreciate your acceptance of my decision, and I have felt little judgment from you and most of the rest of the immediate family. I have tried to make clear on this blog that it is, therefore, not directed toward any one of those who accept me and my decision, but it is directed towards the rest who no longer accept me or my decision. It is directed toward those who insist that I have been deceived, who talk about my decision to everybody but me, who are certain they know better. This blog's existence is an invitation for those people to accept me and my decision. They may never choose to read it or speak to me about it, but the very fact that it is here leaves the invitation open. I make no effort to pull people into reading this blog, and so the only people who will ever see it are those who seek it out.
I appreciate your concern about staying silent. Believe me, I have considered it several times; it would be so much more comfortable for me and everyone else. However, I have decided against silence because I am not interested in comfort. I am interested in the truth. If I am wrong, then staying silent would be the worst thing I could do, because I would not open it up for debate. By opening myself up to discussion, I feel I am taking the route of integrity by allowing everyone (literally) to challenge my conclusions should they choose to. And I feel that challenge is always a healthy thing. If I am wrong, I want to know that.
I understand that most LDS do not want their beliefs challenged. I respect that, and so I invite anyone who feels that way to avoid this blog. Again, that's why I'm not putting flyers on windshields or in some other way intruding onto others' beliefs. I'm certainly taking a much more passive route than LDS missionaries - I don't knock on anyone's door.
As far as a blog on what I do believe in, you can go to www.ricksfam.blogspot.com. That's what I hold most sacred. As I figure out the rest of the details, I might post my journey occasionally. But it's like I stated in an earlier post, I focus on the weak points because they are like links in a chain. One's concern should focus on the weakest links in a chain if one is to be sure the chain will hold the weight.
I hope this answers your concern. Please feel free to contact me with anything further - I am always happy to discuss this. I appreciate your love and support.

Kathy said...

Response to Hannah. I understand how you feel because I used to feel the same way about "apostates" when I was a believing member. I couldn't understand why they couldn't just walk away and find something else to believe in. You know the old saying "they can leave the church but they can't leave it alone".

However, over the past year I have been forced to address some of the things about the Church that I didn't understand or made me uncomfortable in the past. What I discovered about the Church and it's history literally made me sick to my stomach and I wished they really were lies as I had always been told. I was determined to get the truth regardless of where I had to look for it and was certain that if the church really was true my investigation would bring me to that conclusion.

Sadly, that was not the case. What I was left with was anger and resentment for this organization that I had given countless hours of time and thousands of dollars to. I was upset because they were not honest, but required honesty of me.

I appreciate this blog because there are times when I think I'm going crazy because things that seem obvious and alarming to me are totally ignored or blindly accepted by my friends and family, but somehow I'm the one who is influenced by Satan?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that this blog does serve a purpose and I thank Eli for taking the time to put it out there. It helps those of us in the same situation to feel a kinship with others who are going through the same thing (perhaps like fast and testimony meeting does for members). But it might also help others who are looking for the truth or are just trying to get answers to their questions.

If it makes you uncomfortable to read it then don't. But maybe ask yourself why it makes you uncomfortable.

Take care,
Kathy

Dallin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy said...

Dallin, I'm still trying to figure out what I believe in. I am very distrusting of any organized religion at this point and I can't see myself joining any because I feel they are all man made.

However, what has been the most surprising thing to me is how rewarding it is to figure out my purpose in life on my own. I'm still figuring it out, but I see the world so completely different now and it is awesome! I don't have all the answers and that's ok with me. But I can say that I'm a better person now, just because I want to be, not because I feel that I "should" be.

Dallin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli said...

Response to all: I appreciate the dialogue and discussion. The question of what I do believe in has been raised a few times this month. I think it is a fair question, and so I'd like to address it specifically in the next week or two. Please stay tuned...

Nick said...

Hannahs response has prompted me to respond.

How would Hannah feel if ex members of Scientology decided not to talk about their experiences and/or even alert others who were thinking of investigating or getting involved with Scientology. What if her own family members were being lured into Scientology? Wouldn't she want to bring up Xenu the Inter galactic emperor if she knew?

Where would any person get a balanced perspective if ex members or disbelieving members or simply opposers of any organisation didn't speak up or reveal anything they knew that concerned them or they felt it would be of material interest to others?

I believe Eli is blogging partly for understanding and therapy of sort and also because of his good honesty inspired family upbringing that he feels an obligation that others have a right to know things pertaining to the church if they wish to know.

I saw too many people getting baptised without knowing enough about what they were getting involved with and being rushed into baptism and taught Tithing.
Didn't anyone think about what these new recruits might feel when the 'meat' of the church teachings come along? or what about the real factual history?

I found it almost sinsiter what was being downplayed when I would ask about Polygamy (When I finally knew I was being misled that is). From originally being told we don't know much about it, its in the past, it was only to look after widows to later The Bishop reluctantly admitting to me that it is actually the order of marriage and will be restored eventually and he expects to be 'awarded' extra wives!

It was almost chilling to hear.

Then there was a widowed male ward member who remarried for time and 'eternity' in the temple expecting to call out two wives?(so far)

This is not what I was told in my early investigating of the church and was even being misled over it. Had I known earlier then I likely would not have spent another 18 months in the church actively learning.

I can't say everything about the church is bad, there are some great points but these do not compensate for what I believe originated as a Fraud.

I am partly influenced by Mormonism or should I say Christianity because the teachings I adopted are Christian inspired I guess, but what I can't take on board is the theology of Joseph Smith and his claims.

Imagine the current church 'prophet' secretly marrying ward members polygamously and holding them to secrecy. Its no good thinking he wouldn't do that beacause in the past they did do that and did deny to members that they were doing it.

Polygamy is just one distasteful episode and a deal breaker in its own right but there was such an extraordinary accumulation of things that I found, which resulted in me having to sadly decline any further attendance.

I do believe though that on the whole most members really are just sincere people wanting to do the right thing.

Richard said...

At least Jesus didn't lie or deceive. I turned first to LDS to answer key questions I had and the pompus attitude keyed me to seek answers from other sources. Which has led me to know that there isn't a Church today that simply teaches discipleship to Jesus Christ and His teachings - which is what He clearly said in the "Great Commission" of Matthew 28.

So LDS say they do what He commands, but don't. So who else does?! Many 'claim the name', but Jesus said if you love Him you will keep His commandments. There are more like 600-700 of them, not merely two!

God help us all.