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Defending the Faith: Did Aesop's ant or his grasshopper lead the better life?

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  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    April 24, 2014 7:21 a.m.

    Great Article Dr. Peterson. Thank you for writing it! I am a believer because I know that all I experience, all I learn and all I love in my life belongs to me forever. I can not comprehend the opposite, and I can not think of anything more despairing to believe that everything I see and experience means nothing. Because if it doesn't last, it means nothing and therefore, I lived and will die for no reason.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 24, 2014 8:34 a.m.

    As usual, Dr. Petersen writes as if not knowing what is on the other side is bad. Nobody knows what happens when we die. Sure we all have beliefs, but nobody knows. Because we don't know, it is logical to say that you don't know that life after death exists. Nobody alive can know what happens after death.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    April 24, 2014 8:57 a.m.

    @ Brahma. God knows what is on the other side and He has revealed it many times to his Prophets. One can believe those revelations or.... not. If the Prophets are wrong, what did believers lose for believing? On the other hand if the Prophets are true, what does a believer gain? I chose to believe because the advantages are greatly in my favor by doing so.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    April 24, 2014 9:07 a.m.

    @Brahmabull ... I disagree. Even dismissing everything we've been taught about the tenets and behavioral requirements of Christianity - just chucking the whole package - still we are forced to conclude (if we are honest) that SOMETHING happened to the 11 to radically change their behavior and conduct after their teacher's arrest and execution. (And, please, let's reject the Jim Jones analogy.) The 11 demonstrated their sanity at His arrest, dispersing and going undercover for their own safety.

    Yet something happened. They regrouped, dedicated their lives to Him, and walked to a horrible death with eyes wide open.

    That kind of behavioral 180 screams of authenticity.

    The point being, those of us who accept their testimony are then directed to learn what He taught, and it is there that we find hints of what happens after this life. Now I agree with you that we don't know much about it all - about the next life - but I think we have adequate information to know we should prepare for it, in accordance with His instructions.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 24, 2014 9:53 a.m.

    Mountanman, Moontan

    Do you recall incidents of cult followers who KNEW with everything in them what awaited them if they committed mass suicide? There are numerous cases of this happening. People can easily be persuaded to think that they KNOW what is going to happen. This is not a reliable source to go off of. People can believe what they want, but nobody knows. You can claim that the prophets know, yet I have never heard any of them give detailed descriptions of the afterlife. The descriptions that I have heard are very vague. Even so, how can anybody verify that what they are saying is true? It could be their personal belief, and that is most likely the case. They may very well believe it, but it doesn't mean that it is true. We have no idea what happens after death. anybody can make any claim as to what happens when we die, because there is no method or means of verification. Until somebody dies they won't know whether it was true or not. Believers don't lose anything by believing, but neither do non believers for not.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    April 24, 2014 10:08 a.m.

    @Brahmabull ... No, I cannot. I cannot recall one other instance where sane students of a remarkable teacher lost their teacher to execution, and dispersed fearing for their lives - which of course demonstrates a desire to live not do group suicide - and then, later, regrouped and willingly endured not mass suicide but severe persecution and murder ... because they said they met their teacher risen from death. And, from that, changed the course of civilization.

    I can't recall one other example.

    And I think we can all agree that comparisons to Jim Jones' people, and others such as Heaven's Gate ... is comparing apples to elephants.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    April 24, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    Being ordered to commit mass suicide should have been their first clue. Non believers do lose, they lose faith. Faith is a wonderful thing to possess, as Dr. Peterson's article so eloquently points out. If you want "proof", you will be disappointed, rather is it required of us to develop faith. Faith is defined scripturally as "evidences of things unseen that are true." The problem non-believers have is failure to observe. Absence of evidence for non-believers is not evidence of absence for believers. Just because some fail to observe the vast evidences for the existence of God and His promises, doesn't mean millions of other have not observed.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    April 24, 2014 10:22 a.m.

    From my own life experience I can assure you that religious belief systems are freeing in life. In the NT,is a Paul scripture that ........the truth shall set you free. I have seen far too many people who are not free because of addiction problems due to alcohol, drug, or tobacco. Some of these people have had to endure illness from use of these things. Some have had to spend money defending themselves in court on a DUI. Some have even gone to prison because of their use. Some have had accidents that have cost life and limb. Some have lost families and jobs due to use of these substances. And if nothing else, all the money spent on said substances. Wasted. Yes, I sure am much more free, and therefore happy in life, by not going through the problems many of these substances can cause. In my particular church, we call it the "Word of Wisdom". Which I can testify is a truth that shall set you free.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    April 24, 2014 10:34 a.m.

    @Mountanman – “If the Prophets are wrong, what did believers lose for believing? On the other hand if the Prophets are true, what does a believer gain?

    In the eloquent words of that Fox channel sage of wisdom, Homer Simpson – “what if we chose the wrong religion? Each week we just make God madder and madder.”

    @Mountanman – “Faith is a wonderful thing to possess, as Dr. Peterson's article so eloquently points out. If you want "proof", you will be disappointed.”

    I’m with you on this though… which makes one wonder why religious people expend so much energy on trying the prove their beliefs?

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    April 24, 2014 11:26 a.m.

    Brahmabull:

    Yes, we know with certainty there is more after death. How do we know? It starts with Jesus Christ since he resurrected from the dead and showed himself to thousands of witnesses, who cover both hemispheres of the planet. Christ ate in front of others and allowed people to feel his tangible, resurrected body.

    The resurrected Christ has also made himself known to numerous individuals in modern days. Joseph Smith and Lorenzo Snow are two examples. Not to mention even more, like those who have received a burning witness and knowledge given by the power of the Holy Ghost that Christ is resurrected (such as myself). Since Christ is resurrected, we know there is life after death.

    There are various accounts of livings individuals who have been visited by family members or others from the other side of the veil, usually in association with temple work. One prominent example is when, in 1877, the founding fathers and other eminent men/women appeared in vision to Wilford Woodruff, president of the St. George Temple at that time, for the purpose of completing their temple work.

    In sum, life is not over when we are dead -- no doubt about it.

  • Brian Westley St. Paul, MN
    April 24, 2014 11:56 a.m.

    Going by the ant and grasshopper story as told in this article, I like the grasshopper much better; he may have been foolish, but it looks like the ant has decided to let him starve to death instead of giving him some food. And we're supposed to admire the ant?

  • Let it Go! Omaha, NE
    April 24, 2014 1:42 p.m.

    I just read the first few comments and I need to say this:

    There is a significant difference between believing and knowing something. Knowing implies that your information has concrete evidence that you can touch, see, or hear. Believing implies that your information has abstract evidence. Everyone seems to think that this is final and immovable.

    But this is not the case.

    Is it possible to know of something that you don't have concrete evidence for? Is it the seeing that makes it true or is it the feelings that come with seeing? Do you need someone to come back from the dead to believe, or rather know, that the afterlife is real? Or, for the matter, do you need a loved one to die for your confirmation? Or anybody?

    The scriptures are before you. I bet they have evidence enough that there is such a person who came back from the dead. And He was not alone when that happened. Others came forth from the grave and appeared unto many.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    April 24, 2014 1:49 p.m.

    Brian Westley:

    The ant didn't let the grasshopper starve. The grasshopper let himself starve. Helaman 14:30:

    "30 And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free."

    There's also the Bible story of the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom -- 5 wise and 5 foolish. The 5 wise virgins had their lamps full of oil, but did not have enough to give the to 5 foolish virgins. Those 5 foolish were later locked out of the festivities. This ant was like the 5 wise virgins, and the grasshopper was like the 5 foolish.

    If the ant was just like the grasshopper, they'd both be starving. What's to admire in the that?

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    April 24, 2014 2:08 p.m.

    Tyler D. ..."which makes one wonder why religious people expend so much energy on trying the prove their beliefs." On more than one occasion you have offered thoughtful replies, intelligent responses to my comments even when you have disagreed and I thank you for that.
    I would simply respond to your comment above that it might be because so many others spend so much time and energy trying to disprove other's faith. It might be self defense. What can be said of a man's faith that he will not defend?

  • Church member North Salt Lake, UT
    April 24, 2014 2:27 p.m.

    I don't know what will happen when I die. I don't think anyone really knows for sure. I understand that a major part of religion is to tell its people that they will live in mansions for eternity with their families, they tell them that because it is what people want to hear. It is comforting. Helps them sleep at night.

    If there is an afterlife then that will be great. If there is not an afterlife we will not know there is not an afterlife. We will just cease to exist. Either way it does not sadden me. This life is amazing. We are lucky to have the time here that we do. If this is all there is then it is good enough for me. It is not a sad feeling but a grateful feeling to have lived at all.

    I am going to be the best person I can be (I'm not LDS) and either way I am safe when I die. I don't understand grown-ups who can't deal with the thought that this might be all there is.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 24, 2014 2:31 p.m.

    1.96 Standard Deviations

    In other words... You know there is an afterlife based on the words and other experiences of other people?? Doesn't that seem a little strange that your whole belief system on the subject is based on the words of other people?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    April 24, 2014 3:11 p.m.

    @Mountanman – “It might be self defense”

    OK, thanks for your thoughtful comments as well.

    And point taken re: above quote… probably explains a great deal of the rancor in our public discourse these days, don’t you think?

    I argue pretty strongly on this forum, sometimes to make a point about my own views, but more often than not because someone else is trying to make a point with poor reasoning. That said, I feel fairly confident in the goodness of people in general and that even people I disagree with the most would make good neighbors and, depending on shared interests, even good friends.

    @Church member – “If there is not an afterlife we will not know there is not an afterlife. We will just cease to exist. Either way it does not sadden me.”

    Completely agree!

    I don’t understand how the idea of no afterlife (at least where you’re personality lives on) makes people sad. Enjoy this life here and now.

    Your motivation for living a good life? To insure those coming after you have the same opportunities to flourish. This should be its own reward…

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    April 24, 2014 6:03 p.m.

    Brahmabull:

    I personally know there is an afterlife because I have certainty Christ resurrected from the dead. There's no greater witness than from God. I can thank the words of others, like that of the prophets in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, for getting me to search, ponder and pray about the subject. After the trial of our faith, the witness of the Holy Ghost can come. Don't doubt the power or existence of the Holy Ghost. It gives more sure knowledge than any other way devised by man.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    April 24, 2014 6:55 p.m.

    Peterson writes: "Thus, that message board atheist would serve his readers better if he advised them to work toward developing religious faith rather than encouraging them to abandon it."

    The only reason nonbelievers don't it is because misery loves company.

    _
    _
    Homer simpson is wrong about one thing. God doesn't get madder and madder,

    God get's more disappointed. He gave us the truth and agency and continues to do so.

    But people would rather lean on the own understanding or other men's philosophies and wanting to control coerce others into following them and force others to follow their views or what is right and good. Or they would rather pursuing meaningless and temporary things, and fleeting pleasures, and what they believe are easier and more pleasurable paths. Some people just do not want to expend the effort.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    April 24, 2014 10:12 p.m.

    The author mistakenly equates "valuing life" and "happiness," but one can be happy while taking life for granted, and one can value life yet be unhappy for many reasons.

    Religion robs life of value and enjoyment when it teaches people to look upon themselves as "broken" and "sinful." It can encourage harmful suppression of natural thoughts and feelings, particularly surrounding sex, and it often teaches self-castigation and distrust rather than self-worth and self-acceptance.

    It can also be an excuse for not addressing problems. Ever heard, "Well, they'll get theirs in the end" or "God has a special place for people like that"? No need to try to address the problem while we're here. The man upstairs will take care of it.

    But it's the issue of abortion where I see most disturbingly the devaluing of life. Those who claim to be pro-life will look past, over, or through the LIVING woman (or girl) right in front of them and think only of the POTENTIAL life within her. (Think IUDs and the morning after pill.) Isn’t this valuing a possible tomorrow over a very real today?

  • ZAM! Omaha, NE
    April 25, 2014 4:31 a.m.

    For if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it ...

    Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.

    (Alma 32)

    If you want to know why we 'know' , you can read this in the Book of Mormon.

  • Brian Westley St. Paul, MN
    April 25, 2014 7:07 a.m.

    1.96 Standard Deviations:

    The ant has the ability to not allow the grasshopper to starve, yet he allows it. In my book, the ant is allowing the grasshopper to starve.

    "If the ant was just like the grasshopper, they'd both be starving. What's to admire in the that?"

    I didn't say that would be admirable; what I DON'T admire is the ant allowing the grasshopper to starve.

    If you came upon an accident -- say, a car that hit a tree -- would you refuse to give medical help if the driver was drunk and obviously at fault?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    April 25, 2014 7:14 a.m.

    RE: Heaven, "Today shalt thou be with me in “*paradise”(Luke 23:43).

    The LORD(YHWH) God planted a garden(*paradeisos, G# 3857) eastward in Eden;(Gen 2:8 LXX).

    RE: 1.96 Standard Deviations. “It gives more sure knowledge than any other way devised by man.” True, no marriage in Heaven,

    (Luke 20:34-36 LB) Jesus,“replied, “Marriage is for people here on earth, but when those who are counted worthy of being raised from the dead get to heaven, they do not marry. And they never die again; in these respects they are like angels, and are sons of God, for they are raised up in new life from the dead.

    In (Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 1 and 10; Revelation 4-6), all 3, who saw heaven and described their visions give comparatively sparse details, but they agree perfectly. They are all fixated on God's glory, which defines heaven and illuminates everything there. They are overwhelmed, and put to silence by the sheer majesty of God's.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 25, 2014 9:17 a.m.

    1.96 Standard Deviations

    you know as well as I do that the holy ghost isn't a reliable guide to the truth. If it was, then we wouldn't have different religions because the holy ghost would tell everybody else that theirs was wrong. Muslims get the answer that they are right, so do catholics, baptists, methodists, lutherans, etc. You can't discount the feelings they receive from the holy ghost, and then state that only your answers are right. It doesn't work that way. If the holy ghost were there then there would be much less confusion on religion. You feel you are right, and they feel they are right. I don't doubt both sides have had 'feelings' that they are right... but they are only feelings because all of them can't be right.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 25, 2014 12:11 p.m.

    It is a fatuous argument like do tall people enjoy life more than short people, do blondes have more fun. Like so many things in life, it all depends on many variables,

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    April 25, 2014 2:04 p.m.

    Brahmabull:

    God and the Holy Ghost are always reliable, and they help bring everyone to the unity of faith through prophets and apostles (Ephesian 4:11-13). It is up to us to give ear to their words, and the Holy Ghost can confirm the truth of them.

    Keep in mind the Holy Ghost is not feelings, though feelings can come as a fruit of the Spirit's influence (Galatians 5:22). I am more specifically referring to the power of the Holy Ghost -- aka the spirit of prophecy and revelation as the Book of Mormon puts it. This is how one knows with certainty (not feelings).

    Even knowing the truth is still not the end. Individuals still have choice and can act contrary to knowledge/truth given to them. For example, even evil spirits and devils knew Jesus was the Son of God but decided to remain in their evil state. Judas, an apostle, decided to betray Jesus in spite of his knowledge.

    If Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God, then it is incumbent upon us to follow him through His one church he organized. "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesian 4:5).

  • sharrona layton, UT
    April 26, 2014 4:44 p.m.

    RE:1.96 Standard Deviations “the Holy Ghost can confirm the truth of them.”

    The Holy Spirit/Ghost Bears witness of Jesus and that Jesus sends the Holy Spirit (John 15:26). The Jesus of the Bible will send the Holy Spirit. If you don't have the right Jesus they can't have the true Holy Spirit, and your testimony is invalid.

    E.g.. .” (John 1:18 NET) No one has ever seen God’. The only one, himself[Jesus)God,who is in closest fellowship with the Father,has made God known”.

    The problem with sincerity is that it becomes works righteousness because the person is saying "Because of my sincerity, God will listen to me." In other words, because of what's in the person God will look favorably upon him. God does not look into a person and find something good because there is no good in anyone (Rom. 3:10-12; Eph. 2:3).

    The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9)

  • grounded and rooted China, 00
    April 27, 2014 6:41 a.m.

    Beautifully said, Dr. Peterson. I find great comfort and joy in looking to the future. The best is yet to be.

  • grounded and rooted China, 00
    April 27, 2014 8:11 a.m.

    Beautifully said Dr. Peterson. I know that I feel joy in looking to the future. The best is yet to be.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    April 28, 2014 1:59 p.m.

    There have been several comments about the author's reference to Aesop's fable of the ant and the grasshopper. They seem to feel that the ant was a poor example of a Christian. I'm sure that Aesop had values that differed dramatically from Christianity.

    However, Aesop successfully captured the true character of each. Of course the ant let the grasshopper starve ... ants eat dead grasshoppers.