Mormon errata

...just thought I'd fix the Mormon religion real quick:

1. the devil

Mormon belief: My understanding is that the Devil and Christ had different plans for man. The Devil wanted people to be more-or-less forced to be righteous. Christ wanted people to choose righteousness for themselves. God went along with Christ and threw the Devil and his followers out of heaven.

fix: The Devil and Christ had different plans for man. The Devil wanted people to gain understanding without experiencing hardship. Christ didn't think this was possible. God also didn't think it was possible. The Devil and his followers were afraid to experience hardship, so they didn't enter mortal bodies, and they're waiting around until they overcome that fear.

2. atonement

Mormon belief: My understanding is that Christ came to earth to suffer for the sins of man, so that man can be saved, since sinning makes people impure, and people can only return to God if they are pure.

fix: Christ suffered all the sorts of things that people suffer so that he could understand people when they prayed, otherwise people might be like "you're a God, you don't understand what I'm going through." There's no such thing as being impure. God is infinitely understanding.

3. after-life

Mormon belief: My understanding is that there are three degrees of glory people can attain after they're are judged, and one degree of non-glory called "outer darkness." All of these are eternal, though I've heard people disagree about that.

fix: Spirits are learning all the time -- sometimes inside of mortal bodies -- and as they learn more, they get more power as a natural side-effect of their increased understanding about how things work. If you're like the Devil, saying "I don't want to suffer at all" then you're limited in how much you can learn, but you're not trapped forever. Spirits can always learn and progress.

4. faith

Mormon belief: My understanding is that when you read the Book of Mormon, and pray about it, you get a feeling of "this is correct", and you should trust that feeling. This is then the foundation of faith in God and the church.

fix: It's hard to be sure that any particular feeling came from God. Brains are tricky. Even after extremely powerful feelings, if people reflect on them honestly, they may doubt their supernatural origin. However, religion is not about faith, it is about hope. Faith is easy to put in the wrong place, acting as a trap where people get stuck believing something that isn't that great. Hope is free to explore, and discover how we truly wish the universe was, given the experiences we've already had. This exploration is the true quest for God. And I submit that it isn't easy. It is hard to come up with a good way for the universe to be that accounts for all the negative experiences people have had so far.

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