she ded

July 22, 2019

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Member Since:

Jul 25, 2005



Goal Type:

Marathon Finish

Short-Term Running Goals:

  • 5/20 - beat the bridge 8k
  • 5/26 - magnuson series memorial day 5k
  • 6/16 - magnuson series seattle solstice 5k
  • SUMMER - CNWall comers T&F series
  • 7/4 - magnuson series summer spirit run 5k
  • 8/18 - magnuson series summer fitness day 10k
  • 9/30 - bellingham bay half marathon
  • 10/13 - escalante canyons marathon
  • 11/25 - seattle half marathon

Long-Term Running Goals:

qualify for the 2020 olympic marathon trials in ATL (sub-2:45)

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 40.00 Year: 775.50
TypeA8 Test Lifetime Miles: 170.00
Kinvara Test Lifetime Miles: 292.00
K9 Test Purpleberry Lifetime Miles: 287.00
Haunted Phoenix Lifetime Miles: 269.00
K9 Test Arctic Blueberry Lifetime Miles: 250.70
K9 Test Pinkerton Lifetime Miles: 244.00
Freedom Cut Me Loose Lifetime Miles: 252.00
Bubonic Plague Lifetime Miles: 365.00
Orange Splats Lifetime Miles: 219.00
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

10 miles. 27th south loop. 

no more runs longer than 8 miles until next weekend. i am planning to do a 5k time trial tomorrow since i am not racing on saturday, then one more short mp workout early next week.

Skechers Laser Tag Miles: 10.00
Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00Weight: 111.60
From Tara on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 21:44:09 from

Also, good luck with your time trial. Remember to cut corners, it improves your time;)

From Matt Schreiber on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 22:24:25 from

Good luck on the TT! Fun stuff. :)

From Tara on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 23:09:12 from

By the way, you should know that I can't stop thinking of this in my head and it makes me exhausted! Anytime I'm sitting around, doing nothing, this is going off in my head. I wish I never saw it. I wonder if James has this problem?

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 08:13:03 from

Tara - this shows you cannot trust your vision quite as much as you would like. But then what can you trust? It was a question like this that eventually led me to develop faith in God. For me this happened when I realized that even the strictest mathematical proof could potentially have a logical error that managed to evade scrutiny, and if so, then what about the things that are considered true in other sciences where the standards of scrutiny for establishing something as fact are much much less strict? I realized more was needed than just dry logic and physical senses.

All of a sudden taking a step of faith did not look as scary because I realized I already was taking a step of faith every time I made even a simple decision about something like if it is safe to step on a certain surface, etc.

From fiddy on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 09:48:30 from

Religion claims absolute certainty. Science does not.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 10:19:51 from

James - that is why even though I love science I find it inadequate for life. Some questions are too important to have only an approximation for an answer.

From fiddy on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 10:58:26 from

The desire for an exact answer does not mean that you actually have one.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 12:09:42 from

Yes, but you lack even the desire you definitely do not have one. With the desire you at least have a chance.

From Rob on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 12:51:44 from

I like this topic, thanks for bringing it up allie.

James, coming from someone who has been on both sides of this debate here is my perspective. I know it sounds cliché but once you have children, your perspective changes. Sometimes you need an absolute answer. Even if there is no proof to back it up.

From SlowJoe on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 13:09:09 from

Really Allie, can't you just keep your blog running-related? You know religion is a sensitive subject...

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 13:32:29 from

I agree with Rob. Having children pushes you to move to a different level. It is difficult to explain unless you have experienced it. If I had to explain it, I would try maybe explaining like this. You can watch someone do something, e.g fix your car, and as he explains what he is doing you think, well it is not that hard. You may even complain about the car shop bill. But when you try to do it yourself you realize the depth of the experience of a car mechanic who is able to instinctively solve problems in minutes that are taking you hours or that you cannot solve at all. But if you confront that car mechanic and ask him to defend his expertise in a book, he likely will not be able to produce something you can publish. But he can fix your car. Every time a different problem, and every time he finds just the right solution. And he will tell you - I cannot teach you how to do this in a book, or even in a class. You have to get under the car and get your hands dirty. You have to do it for some time, you have to suffer some learning pains to gain the experience.

It is somewhat similar when you raise a child. You realize that college textbooks, even doctorate research and literature published by world experts in child development just does not cut it. You need to have that something special. And that something special easily and naturally comes through the right kind of religion. I can try to explain how, but I am afraid I will do no better than that car mechanic.

Nevertheless it is a fact that religious people tend to have more children. A lazy explanation of that is that the religion turns them off to science, they do not understand the dangers of overpopulating the world, and they simply lack the education in the matters of birth control. Relying on some personal experiences, I would have to say that while the above explanation is widely accepted it is greatly oversimplified, and I would point out to a wave of a different frequency in the decomposition of this signal, so to speak. Increasing the amplitude of this wave while decreasing the amplitude of the other will lead to good results. Religious people have more children because they more easily understand the value of a human soul, in particular the value of the soul they are personally given the privilege and responsibility to nurture.

It is unfortunate when science and religion are put at odds because they are supposed to work together. When we do it properly, we will be amazed at the results. Cancer, MS, and other diseases that we cannot cure now will be cured. We'll figure out how to use our resources better. We'll discover technology that our science fiction writers currently lack the imagination for. Among other things...

From Rob on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 14:05:03 from

I'm going to get sappy, sorry in advance. 12 years ago I was an all out atheist, hadn't been in a church in 20 years. Then we had our first child, 3 months pre-mature, he weighed 30oz, you could see right through his translucent skin and watch his heart beat, I could hold his entire body in the palm of my hand. The doctors told us there was no way for him to survive, counselors came and tried to help us prepare for funeral arrangements, but that tiny little baby knew more than all the doctors and nurses combined. And somehow in the following 3 months sitting in the NICU 18 hours a day everything changed. I don't expect for my story to change anyone, all I know is it changed me. He is now 12, one of the smartest kids I have ever known and not a single medical problem to speak of. And there is no explanation.

From fiddy on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 15:19:19 from

Sasha: That's a false dichotomy. The choice isn't solely between raising your child based on scientific papers and following a religion. You make it sound like you don't actually believe in God, you just use religion as a parenting strategy.

As for you science versus religion comment. Science and religion are put at odds by those who use the bible for science. That includes you. Young earth creationists are currently attempting to do tremendous damage to our educational system. This is what happens when you claim absolutely certainty.

Rob: I'm obviously glad your child survived, but you should think through what you are saying. You say that the recovery surprised Drs, but that doesn't mean they thought it impossible. If they thought there was a 1% chance of living, then they will want to prepare you for the 99% outcome and not try to give you false hope. Medical professionals can't be totally precise because of what I said about lacking absolute certainty.

While the Drs may not have known why your child survived, that doesn't mean that God must have intervened somehow. That would imply that every innocent child that does die is allowed to by God.

From fiddy on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 15:25:15 from

Also, your comment above the wave frequency is interesting. You seem to be claiming that religious people are better somehow. Therefore it's ok for them to have more children? Care to cite any evidence for this claim?

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 15:42:32 from


y'' + y = 0

characteristic equation has complex roots, i and -i. We visit the complex domain, do a little magic and come back with a real solution - y = cos(t+c1) + cos(t+c2). "Imaginary" numbers are just as real as the "real" numbers, and help solve problems in real numbers. Maybe we should call them "refined" instead. Buf if you insist sqrt(-1) should be illegal you will never get there. I will stop here at this point, you can figure out the rest.

From Rob on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 15:43:22 from

I agree, if they really believed there was no chance for survival they wouldn't have even put him in the incubator. My point was it changed me, there were a number of events that happened but in the end sometimes its just better to believe in something. I can't even explain it cause like I said I was on the other side for a long time and no words could change me. I really don't believe in proselytizing at all, I despised people for doing it to me so don't think that's what I'm doing. Just thought I'd add my experience but now like most blog posts I make wish I wouldn't have :)

From fiddy on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 16:33:36 from


Imaginary numbers are a convenient abstraction, true. That doesn't mean that all abstractions are convenient. It certainly doesn't make your religion true.

The point I originally started with was that science doesn't claim absolute certainty, religion does. Trying to put me on the side of making certain ideas and concepts forbidden is laughable. It's like you're almost immune to actually reading the words I write.

From Redd on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 17:11:14 from


You can never win this argument for the sole fact that scientists will believe something with 99.9999999% certainty. There's always that small crack allowing doubt in. Religious people believe something with 100% of their being, they just know it to be true regardless of empirical data. Personally, I think living with the crack of doubt just makes the world a whole lot more interesting.

#YOLO #Swag #sorrynotsorry #loosemorals

From Redd on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 17:11:55 from

Also Allie, keep up the good work!

From Josh E on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 17:13:07 from

This is the most fun I've had all week. Thanks Allie for bringing this topic into play.

Just my two cents. The first half of my life was spent mormon taking everything very seriously and believing that any uncertainty I felt was a personal failing. The second half, far and away the better half, I have taken everything much less seriously and let uncertainty rule as a philosophy. I say that anyone who thinks they are absolutely right is absolutely wrong, though I could be wrong about that.

Having two young children hasn't changed this a bit. If I can teach them self-discipline, hard work, accountability, respect and unconditional love, I hope I will have done my job. So far, they are two great kids.

And I have no idea what I am missing here. If there is something that requires an exact answer, it is beyond my comprehension.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 17:18:04 from

Allie has done absolutely nothing for this topic. Toby posted a picture of an impossible object (Penrose stairway), and I wrote a little essay about it. That started the discussion.

From Sasha Pachev on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 17:51:59 from


You do not have the 99.99% certainty in everything that is taught as science in accredited schools. Take it a little further. You do a forensic analysis of bits - e.g somebody broke into a system, maybe you had some software failure, etc. This is as simple as it gets - it is just bits, either 0 or 1. If you got a penny for every time somebody wrote something about bits that was widely accepted as truth that later proved wrong you probably would never have to work. Things are not 99.99% in computer science and we are painfully aware of it.

One nice thing about bits, aside from the fact that they are very simple creatures existing only in two states, is that if you have a crazy idea and you want to try it you can usually do it quickly and at a relatively low cost. So you can quickly eliminate things that are completely idiotic and get it going relatively robust. But not perfect. In fact, quite far from perfect. Over the course of the years we have had a number of spectacular high-stakes software failures.

If we cannot get it quite right with bits when someone could die if you did not, do you really think we can get it right with more complex items such as DNA where experiments take much longer and the results are often not as black and white and when the stakes are not so high?

From seeaprilrun on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 18:44:57 from

Whew! What a lot of interesting reading. I admire the intelligence and feeling in all responses. I agree that there is a certainty in religion that is not seen in science. I also venture to say there is a huge difference between religion and faith. Faith that a higher power is at work and something has happened that science does not explain. I don't claim to be religious by any means, or very smart scientifically or particularly well-educated or intelligent or well versed in the Bible. I will say this--I have worked in a field for 12 years and been exposed to lots and lots of death as well as miracles. I've also suffered from tons of bad decisions and abuses and such crap. I've had children and lost children. The bottom line for me is this--science cannot explain all these experiences, and no dogma can define God or lay out His rules. I don't think anyone can boast an unflawed understanding of science or religion. We act and function out of faith, love, belief, emotion, knowledge and experience. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we are sorely wrong. there is my little stab at the debate, coming from a gal who wrestles daily with spirituality and meaning. :)

From fiddy on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 18:56:27 from

Sasha, you are missing the point. There are some things about which we are 99.99% certain, and there are others about which we are much less certain. Redd's point was that even if there is something that you think you know with a high degree of certainty (for example that if I bang my head against my desk then it will hurt), it's still not 100% and can never be.

You have things that you are 100% certain of. We do not.

I'm utterly bewildered by your statement on DNA. DNA isn't programmed by people and we don't claim to understand everything that can happen nor to have complete control over genetic engineering. The sorts of things that school children get taught are "DNA codes for proteins which are translated in the ribosome". We can study how these things happen and in great detail. The fact that we don't have a complete knowledge of the cell doesn't mean that the basics are wrong. These theories make predictions that agree with literally thousands of experiments that take place everyday.

From fiddy on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 19:07:16 from


I normally lump faith and religion together. Can you clarify what distinguishes the two in your opinion?

From seeaprilrun on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 19:25:04 from


Religion: rules, dogma, belief in This interpretation of This text out of This book--Bible, Book of Mormon, etc...belief and adherence to that particular set of rules for that particular religion--Baptist, Catholic, the list goes on and on and on

Faith: Conviction and knowledge in your very being of a higher loving power that we cannot truly understand, independent of any particular religion, it's personal, it's between me(or whoever), and God, and it's real. I don't follow any rules dictated by dogma or particular religion, this is about the basics of being truly loved and sharing this love with others.

Religion burned me. Religion made me the rule that it was a Sin to leave an abusive relationship. Religion says I have to judge my best gay friend although he has been a rock in my life for kindness and advice. Religon says I should be at a church potluck with other religious people.

I don't go to church.

Faith says that I have a loving Heavenly Father who does not want me to suffer. Faith says that I accept the amazing friendship from my best gay friend, this is not about sin, this is about us loving each other. Faith says I get off my a$$ and and serve my violent, drunk, swinging vagrant patients with compassion and humility and hold their hand and treat them as if they were my beloved mother.

That's the best I can articulate it I guess?

From fiddy on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 20:22:46 from

April that makes perfect sense to me.

I think to stay sane everyone has to think about what the purpose of their life is. I feel like THAT is a question that science could never truly answer. I just think it's also a question that you shouldn't let anyone else answer for you.

From allie on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 20:33:37 from


i can't decide which is more long and stressful -- my day at work or this thread. [smiley]

sasha is right -- i have done nothing for this topic, other than my post a few weeks ago about the city of sandy being like the penrose stairway. i thought it was funny. not religious. not scientific.

similar to josh, i was raised in the mormon church. i grew up surrounded by people who said they knew the church was true without a doubt. i never felt this...ever. i spent 24 years feeling guilty about it. it was upsetting to be presented with books and stories and talks and lessons about the one true church, the one correct way -- and then constantly feel doubt and uncertainty about it. i never said anything for fear that people would tell me i didn't have enough faith, or that i wasn't feeling the spirit because i was sinning, or that i wasn't praying enough. but i was always trying really hard to be good, thinking that eventually i would be good enough to feel this thing that everyone else was feeling that brought them truth, knowledge, clarity, peace, etc. it took 24 years for me to finally stop and say "this is just not what i believe. this is not the way i view the world. this is not for me."

so my question is this: why have i never felt this conviction about mormonism (or any religion for that matter), whereas my friends and family claim to know the church is true with absolute certainty? this is something i ponder often. am i broken? am i missing something that others have? i really don't know. i am trying to figure it out -- and not necessarily figure out all of the answers, because having the answers is what made me question mormonism in the first place. claiming to know so much about the world -- where we came from, where we are going, the whole reason why we are alive -- to me, those are unanswerable questions.

From Josh E on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 20:51:10 from

Too bad there isn't a sarcasm font like bold or italics. Much love for you Allie.

From seeaprilrun on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 20:59:49 from

Allie--I was raised in a charismatic Christian household, same feelings as you, so much rules and guilt and me wondering why I lacked the conviction of everyone else and what was so wrong with me. God had been defined for me in a certain way and it was wrong, so wrong. I still wrestle with spirituality, it is a battle I have to address and so much life and experience is in play. Screw guilt. It sounds so cliche but you really do have to follow your heart and work it out for yourself, and nobody can do that for you. Faith is personal. I wrestled through some pretty gnarly demons over the past few years...I recommend the book "untangled" by Michelle Pilar, I don't subscribe to everything in the book but it definitely addresses the internal faith battle and it was a painful but great read for me and a turning point of sorts. Way to get a blog convo going geez...;)

From Fritz on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 21:34:46 from

Thanks everyone. This is better than a testimony meeting. Since I never go, I guess it is my turn. I have never been religious because may family wasn't and there is this thing I learned in school called science that made a lot of sense and provided good explanations for most everything. For everything else I accept living without a perfect answer. If "Judgement Day" does exist, fantastic. Assuming God is reasonable, I would think she/he/it will understand my point of view. I have faith in that.

From AngieB on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 22:02:57 from

I just spent a half hr reading this thread. Interesting I must say. Running and religion :)

From Rob Murphy on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 22:20:09 from

Every time I think I might sit down and ponder weighty subjects like this, I end up having to go to work or run a kid to the ER or to swim practice or to cub scouts or else watch Breaking Bad. By then I'm exhausted and I have to go to bed.

From Amiee on Sat, Feb 22, 2014 at 13:37:50 from

I will not comment on religious and/or political things on a running blog. I will not comment on religious and/or political things on a running blog. It doesn't matter how many times I say it I can't help myself...

Arizona passed a bill this week that allows businesses to discriminate and refuse services to gays and others based on religious beliefs and I am absolutely horrified and sickened that something like this can happen in our country. "No gays served here" is no different than "No Jews served here" in my opinion and we all know where that went...

Sasha, you say that "Religious people have more children because they more easily understand the value of a human soul..." I hope this includes gay human souls!

My parents raised me in the Be a Good Person religion. That meant to be kind and compassionate to all people be they black, purple, gay, straight, or republican although I am still trying to develop compassion for the latter.

ps April, I love you definition of faith!

pps I 100% have faith in gravity.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 18:00:58 from


I suppose you know my background already, but just in case you do not. I am an LDS convert, join the Church when I was 19 in Moscow. Was raised an atheist. The main driver in my conversion was the testimony of Joseph Smith regarding his first vision. I had no doubt that the experience was authentic.

I think all of us are "broken" in some way. We cannot run at the speed of light. Nor can we have perfect faith yet. Some break through a little earlier than others, but it is the difference between a 10:00 mile and 5:00 mile. We as runners think it is a huge difference because a race among mortals can often be won by running 5:00 pace, but rarely by running 10:00, but it is all slow even relative to just a car. Even though developing faith is the very reason we are born, we are not competing in the regard of who has more of it. Some things you see for yourself, in some things you have to rely on others.

I see some things for myself very plainly. For example, I can see that Joseph Smith really saw the first vision and translated the Book of Mormon. I see that the Word of Wisdom is a divine law. I see that tithing is a true commandment. But when it comes to family history, my vision is not so clear. But that is OK, others see it. For example, my son Benjamin sees that part better than me in spite of his youth, and I know him, so I know that if he sees it, it is just as real as the things I see.

Time to go, more thoughts later...

From ACorn on Sat, Apr 19, 2014 at 19:04:33 from

This is quite the thread. I’ll chime in quickly.

My experience is almost the exact opposite of Sasha's. Very religious until about 19. Ironically, going on an LDS mission ultimately led me away from faith. I began to study and research almost obsessively, looking for answers and trying to make it all make sense. It never did. In fact, the more I looked for facts and explanations, the worse it got. Anyway, when I was 24 I told my parents that I was no longer a believer.

Much like JoshE, I appreciate having uncertainty in my life now. I don’t need to have all of the answers anymore. It’s okay not to know what is going to happen after this life and what the “purpose” of all of this is. I’d say that I am far more understanding of others and have dropped lots of my judgmental tendencies. Still working on that.

From Sasha Pachev on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 13:54:18 from

Getting back to this, finally. As we see from the comments above, it comes down to the gift of faith. Some people have it more naturally than others. The matter is complicated by a few things in our society:

- While something like the gift for music or the gift for running is viewed as at least somewhat valuable even by those who lack those gifts, the gift of faith is seen as valuable only by those who have it themselves at least to some significant degree

- Those who have this gift have a difficult time understanding those who do not. Ironically it can make those with the gift act contrary to the gift in relation to those without it.

- Some fuel is also added to the fire going the other way. Those who do not have the gift have a hard time understanding those who do. Since the fruit of faith takes time to see, while the presence of faith cannot be scientifically established, those who lack the gift have a very strong temptation to believe that faith is nothing more than mere imagination.

- It is possible to go through the motions of a religion without ever developing that gift, or perhaps developing it only marginally - in a way that proves inadequate when adversity comes and it is time to use it.

In spite of the above, just like I am quite reluctant to believe that any runner is cursed to never break 4:00 in the marathon, I am even more adamant about the development of the gift of faith. It is a frustrating experience sometimes. To help someone become a better runner all that needs to happen is that they go out and do the prescribed workouts, and then eat and sleep like they are supposed to. There might be a glitch or two, maybe an injury, or some medical condition to overcome, but most of the time it is relatively easy to work through. In the matters of faith things are much more difficult. Even if someone said in full sincerity - I am willing to do whatever it takes to develop this gift of faith, it is not as simple as just gradually building your mileage. A miracle needs to happen, there needs to be a change of heart, the light needs to shine, a vision needs to open, and even the Lord himself has no control here. That is why they draw pictures of Christ knocking on a door with the handle only on the inside - He knocks, but we are the ones who have to open.

All I can say is this. I know that God is real through the gift of faith that for one reason or another was given to me. Allie, Josh, Adam - do not give up so quickly! I got the gift naturally, while I had to fight for the education to develop the gift. You got the education naturally, your battle is to get the gift, which I hope you will eventually win.

From ACorn on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 16:31:45 from


I appreciate your comments. You strike me as a very thoughtful and sincere person. I agree with you that faith is the heart of the matter here.

Faith is a difficult word to define. In the normal everyday sense it is synonymous with trust, confidence or hope. Such as the statement, "I have faith that he'll do well."

In the religious sense, it is the process by which the faithful arrive at knowledge. Sayings like, "Jesus blessed the masses" or "God lives" are prevalent in Christianity. So for the religious, faith is the basis for claiming knowledge. At church people don't say, "I hope that..." they claim to know. This is problematic on many levels.

There's a lack or absence of evidence for holding their beliefs yet the faithful go ahead and do it anyway with full confidence and certainty. This strikes me as wrong and as a horrible decision making strategy.

Also problematic is the amount of religions. They make contradictory truth claims on the basis of faith. There's no discussing or revising these beliefs because they're not based in evidence. On what basis does one religious person tell another that they're incorrect? Is it more likely that they're all correct or all wrong? Maybe one is right but why have faith in one and not the others?

Faith is not without serious problems. I'd enjoy meeting you at some point to discuss further.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 17:51:14 from


That is what faith looks like to someone who does not have it, of course. But is much deeper than that.

I like Alma's definition of faith - to hope for things which are not seen which are true. It does not take a gift to "hope" for random unseen things. It does to "hope" for the ones that are true. I put the word "hope" in quotes for a reason - we do not have a precise word for it.

As to the test of a true religion, you can use this approach. First, eliminate those who claim their religion is true, but are not willing to sacrifice for it. You will only search things so deep when it is a purely intellectual pursuit, so chances are when solid people dig deep they realize there is a problem. For others you have to decide if the followers are seriously deceived, or perhaps the religion has at least a serious amount of truth.

For me the decision was more or less like this. We have some monotonous function, something like (x-1)^5 + arctan(x) - pi/4 and we need to find its roots. This looks like an ugly problem that would require numerical methods, but we can "observe" that 1 is a root. Then we can observe that if x gets bigger the function gets bigger, otherwise it gets smaller, so there can be no other roots, problem solved. The "observe" part was personal revelation through the Holy Ghost that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. From there, everything else was a matter of common sense, but it did help to have some additional independent revelation.

From fiddy on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 18:51:30 from

Sasha, I'll be honest with you. From the point of view of someone who lacks 'the gift of faith', those who have it seem mentally ill.

First, your vision of Joseph Smith was likely just a dream. Think about the following facts

1)Not everyone has had such a revelation. Why would that be?

2)Many people experience dreams and hallucination regularly.

3)Many people also have religious visions but they tend to be contradictory.

Second, you tie yourself in knots trying to find a logical justification for your beliefs. In the end, all of your arguments must start and end with you assuming that you are correct.

Third, let's look at how you know which religion is true

1) It requires sacrifice. Like suicide bombers for Islam? They are sacrificing! I assume you do not think they are correct.

2) You say that we can dismiss some religions because the followers are deceived. (At least this is how I read your statement.) How would you know if you were deceived. To use your Holy Ghost example, what if this is a trick by Coyote?

3)You say that other religions may be followed because they have at least some truth to them (again, your writing is unclear, so I interpreted). I would argue that Mormonism is such a religion (see revelation).

Please read all that I have said and think on it. If you are not convinced, that's fine. However, if you have more to say you should follow your own rules and post on the discussion forum. Allie does not like having her blog used this way.

From ACorn on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 19:02:18 from

Well said fiddy!

Sorry allie, I should've realized that I was being inconsiderate.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 19:17:21 from


Let me interpret my own rules :-) What they mean is this - if somebody said something on one post, you should respond to it on the same post. Discussions on a blog are within the rules as long as they are respectful. Given the fact that I have written the code, pay the electric and Internet bill, perform backups, bug fixes, emergency maintenance, and even occasionally develop new features, I reserve the exclusive right for the final decision of what is considered respectful and what is not. I am fairly liberal in that regard as long as people stay away from profanity, vulgar references, and otherwise abusive language.

I am perfectly fine with people telling their true feelings and actually find you calling people with the gift of faith mentally ill rather entertaining.

From fiddy on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 19:46:19 from

I'd like to clarify that point and say that it is faith as you specifically describe it and not faith in general.

And I don't say it to make fun of you.

As to your other point, fair enough. I keep replying because I find it interesting. However, I know that Allie is uncomfortable having this discussion on her blog.

From allie on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 20:11:44 from

it is okay, actually. it's only uncomfortable for me because i don't know if i have a response to any of this other than a knock knock joke. i'm still thinking about it. but the discussion is interesting and thought-provoking and the various viewpoints are welcome. adam -- you were not being inconsiderate. i appreciate your input.

From Rob Murphy on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 20:33:29 from

It's pretty interesting how it's been resurrected from the dead after two months. Appropriate for Easter.

I've been tempted to chime in then I realize that there is absolutely zero chance I would convince anybody of my point of view.

From Rob on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 20:53:00 from

And I didn't think Sasha had a sense of humor, but that was the funniest thing I've ever read on the blog.

Rob, I think time has shown that words can not change someones point of view on this issue. It requires bombs.

From Rob Murphy on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 21:06:06 from

That reminds me of the WWJB bumper sticker I saw a couple years ago - who would Jesus bomb?

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 12:48:02 from


First, let's clarify my description of faith. The key points are:

- accepting something as true by virtue of a special feeling (referred to as a witness of the Holy Ghost) without seeing physical evidence that can be easily shared with others

- acting on that feeling/belief/witness consistently throughout life even when it results in hardship or contradicts certain accepted ideas or beliefs

I can cite numerous examples of people who have lived their lives with faith as described above productively achieving success in just about every measurable way by almost any standard - hardly a case of mental illness, unless you define mental illness as a mere failure to accept the opinions of a majority - frequently used in the Soviet Union, by the way.

From fiddy on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 15:15:17 from

Ok, mental illness is a difficult subject and hard to define so I probably shouldn't throw around that term. What I really mean is that what you call faith is often hard to distinguish from mental illness.

Consider this specific, admittedly extreme, example.

If you don't want to follow a link, it is a news story about a couple who let their children die as medical treatment was against their religion. This, to me, appears crazy, but one could argue that they simply were acting on faith. This certainly fits your second criterion.

Most people with 'faith' (I'm using quotes to indicate your definition) don't act this way, obviously. But their 'faith' prevents them from thinking rationally about many topics.

As usual, you've ignored many of my points. It's fine, by the way, but I see it as a troubling symptom. If you simply ignore my points, then there really can't be a discussion.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 16:05:32 from

James - I'll agree with you that there are people with mental illness that on the surface appear to be following some kind of faith and explain their decisions accordingly, and for someone who never experienced faith it may be difficult to distinguish true faith from some form of mental disorder.

I do not have the time to address all of your points, I address only the ones that I consider to be relevant. I also do not argue to prove a point according to the formal rules of logic, rather I just explain what I see. Sometimes my illustrations fail to communicate the message, but I hope this one works.

Consider an amateur chess player that thinks along these lines as he plays as white. "I read a book on Bird's opening, and it starts with 1. f4, if there is a book about it this is a solid move". So he does. Black replies with 1...e6. Our player continues: "Once I read in a book about a move 2. g4, I think I can play that". So he does. Black responds with 2...Qh4 mate achieving a checkmate in the fewest possible number of moves.

What our player has not considered is that the details of a position that appeared to him insignificant actually matter a lot. Your argument has a similar problem. Details of the faith that may be difficult for an outsider to perceive make a difference between success and failure, both physical and spiritual.

From ACorn on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 16:21:47 from


Your description of faith leaves much to be desired.

A special feeling is common among most if not all religions, I witnessed this in Mexico City. The many devout Catholics I taught would tear up talking about the Virgin Mary or any other of the saints and Pope. Having this feeling says nothing about the validity of one's beliefs.

Acting on that feeling consistently says nothing about the validity either. It just shows that the holder of the belief is convinced.

I agree with your last point. I don't believe that faith is a mental illness. Virtually all my family are LDS as are the majority of my friends. I value these relationships highly.

Their beliefs may help them be better people or more successful or they may not. Either way, it says nothing about the validity of the LDS church and its claims. The same goes for the other religions. There are successful people from all walks of life.

The bloggers on FRB could quickly come up with a few "rules" that if we all followed would lead to successful lives.

I find your language regarding the "gift of faith" to be rather arrogant and not helpful in advancing your point. I could say that fiddy is blessed with the "gift of reason" and that it's a gift that everyone should work on attaining. Calling something a gift doesn't make it so.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 17:27:42 from


Hold your horses, not everything at once. I was not discussing validity in the sense of knowing which church is the one that God has given us. I was just pointing out that people who live according to the definition of faith I gave earlier are not necessarily mentally ill and very frequently are quite successful in a way that is universally acknowledged by those with faith or without. To which it seems both you and James agree.

Now, laying other subjects aside for a moment, let's address the issue of gifts. We all have gifts in different mixes and different quantities. Many gifts, including the gift of faith, can be developed beyond the level at which we start. We should not feel bad that we do not have a certain gift. For example, we see various performances among the bloggers. Some of the difference comes from differences in training. Indeed, we see people improve their marathon time by as much as 1 hour when their training improves. But some of that difference is due to a different amount of the gift of speed and the gift of endurance. Instead of resenting the fact that we started with less and will be given only so much in this life, we can humbly persevere with what we have been given and have that assist us in developing other perhaps more important gifts. At the same time, we may realize that we have been given more than what we thought as far as running is concerned.

It takes those two gifts of speed and endurance, both adequately developed, to succeed in distance running. A parallel can be drawn to the gift of faith and the gift of reason. Both of those are needed as well - it is not good to develop one while neglecting the other. This is a challenge in our world today because we have too many insisting you need only one but that challenge can be met.

From fiddy on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 17:35:51 from

You're right, it's unreasonable for me to expect you to respond to every point.

In your chess analogy, there is an observable outcome that we can use to say very clearly that one strategy is superior to another, even though the difference was only subtle.

We don't have such a test (unless you would like to propose one), so the analogy is worthless.

Answer me specifically, what is it that makes you right and the faith healing parents wrong?

From ACorn on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 18:03:55 from


I reiterate that I agree with you and don't see faith as a form of mental illness. I love and respect my parents and siblings who are all very active in the LDS church. In addition, they are hardworking and successful people in almost every sense of the word.

I don't disagree with your thoughts on running. Perseverance obviously pays dividends. A successful distance runner has speed and endurance, I'm also on board.

Now, it seems that you have a very convoluted way of arriving at what I was taught are "plain and precious truths". Rather than use analogies, I prefer discussing point by point and being direct with each other. Analogies create a larger margin for misunderstanding than already exists which is likely sizable.

From allie on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 18:36:56 from

okay, i think i have to take back what i said last night. this has turned into a three-way discussion and i think a conversation of this nature should probably be moved to a private location.

i personally do not have anything else to say on this topic.

sasha -- you are welcome to stay with us before des news again this year. i will make a big dinner and you and james can duke it out all night.

From Sasha Pachev on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 19:27:05 from


One more thing to answer the questions I was asked, and we will end this.

What makes my faith different. I suppose the results.

Use of analogies. That is what math and many other sciences are all about. It is all about finding the right kind of isomorphism. Seriously, though - I may explain things in a convoluted way, but I see them simply, at least to me it is very simple. So I do not feel discussing, let's say a banana point by point. The mathematical equation describing just the shape of a banana is ugly, I would hate to have to examine its image in a hex editor, I would hate to have to examine the chemical structure of each individual molecule, but I like eating the whole thing.

From Burt on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 20:07:47 from

From Fritz on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 20:11:15 from

Thanks for making my Wednesday more interesting. I am a nonbeliever and I agree with Mr. Einstein.

"The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer." Albert Einstein

From ACorn on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 21:52:30 from

Allie- I'm done for real

Fritz- You're welcome

Sasha- Thanks for the chat. Enjoy your banana.

Burt- WTF

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