Preference falsification and progressive religion

Preference falsification is when someone publicly expresses a preference that they do not really hold. The phrase “virtue signaling” arose to describe a form of preference falsification; progressives tend to voice loud support for cultural transformations in the direction of diversity and inclusion, for example. But when Hollywood creates movies that align with these professed values, progressives do not actually go to see those movies. “Go woke, go broke” is just a way of saying progressives claim to want things, but when presented with those things they claim to want, they do not choose those things.

This phenomenon of preference falsification extends to religion. Progressives advocate for reforms in religious communities, and when they get their reforms, they stop attending:

At the heart of progressive religious thinking is relativism, the idea that everyone has their own private truth and no person’s beliefs are more valid than anyone else’s. To advocate for relativism over other viewpoints is to automatically engage in preference falsification: if relativism is true, then relativism itself is no more valid than any other point of view. So why advocate for it? Advocating for a view implies that we believe it to be more valid than other views.

Imagine going to an academic conference, and in the conference program, someone describes a 2-hour presentation he will be giving. After describing the subject matter, he says “Note that I do not consider my view to be more valid than any other view.” Would you attend that 2-hour presentation? Only if there were some other compelling reason, like an opportunity to sit in the back and network with other conference attendees. If you were in the room, you would probably tune out of the presentation entirely.

This is why I am very reluctant to discuss important religious issues with progressives. When someone’s relativistic starting assumption is that their view is not more valid than mine, why engage? The only interesting religious discussions happen among people of conviction.

I suspect that many progressives’ relativism is an example of preference falsification. Their professed relativism is really just a hatred of reality. Among Latter-day Saints, the phrase “more than one way to Mormon” is a profession of relativism:

For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas. These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch; but received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant. (D&C 76:99-101)

Why do relativists “receive not” the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant? All of those things are anti-relativist in nature.

In that same section 76, relativism is described as a core element of the telestial paradigm, those who are “thrust down to hell.” The defining characteristic of hell is a hatred of reality.

To use another metaphor, imagine I open a health food store in a strip mall. My health food store does fairly well, with regular customers. But a regular customer comes in and demands ice cream. I let them know that we serve salads, but there are plenty of ice cream shops in the area, including one next door. Those ice cream shops probably won’t exist in the long term, but they are open now. If someone really wants ice cream, there is a place right next door where they can get it.

They reply, “But I want to get ice cream from you.

My reply: “Why from me? It would take all of us a lot less effort for you to just go next door and get ice cream from people who make it all day, every day. Plus, the ice cream next door is way cheaper than anything I am designed to sell. You have expressed a desire for ice cream, and just a few steps away, you can get it very cheaply.”

If at that point the person keeps insisting that what they want is for me to serve ice cream, then it’s clear that the issue is not ice cream. It’s that deep down they understand my facility to be preferable compared to others, or they are too lazy or dishonest to make the choice that aligns with their professed preference. Maybe they look at the ice cream shops and observe that people who go there are never satisfied, and even though they claim to love diversity, they all seem to end up with blue hair and an aversion to health food. Then those people eventually stop going to ice cream shops, because they realize they are able to feed their sugar cravings with less effort at home.

Preference falsification is just a manifestation of the maddening inner conflict that characterizes progressive religion.

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