Saturday, July 23, 2016

Intelligent Design..... Not Science

During my 8 hours at work I tend to either listen to podcasts or talks by philosophers and scientists on YouTube; if you are in my line of work you need something to make the time go by faster and seem pleasant. So, this past Wednesday I was listening to a talk by Christian philosopher Alvin Plantiga titled Science and Religion: Where the Conflict Really Lies, which can be viewed in full here. During the course of this talk, as the title implies, Plantiga talked about where the problems lie in the psuedo-conflict between science and religion, and said ultimately that the competition between science and religion is a false one; the real conflict is between science and naturalism (this is just the first of Plantiga's errors.)

Later on in his talk, Plantiga said that the theory of evolution has holes in it (meaning that there are questions that still need to be solved in the theory) and that since it is not complete that Intelligent Design theory should be taught inside the science classroom alongside evolution. For those who are not sure what Intelligent Design theory is, here is the definition according to The Theory of Intelligent Design: Educator's Briefing Packet (which is distributed by the Discovery Institute; the main center for Intelligent Design research)
"The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection."
So, Intelligent Design is not the same as creationism, which says that life and everything that exists is due to the fiat creation of God; it says that after looking at the evidence of biology and physics that it looks as though some type of intelligent life form designed things to function as they do. Intelligent Design is today the leading alternative theory to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, and is promoted by philosophers and scientists such as Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Behe, William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantiga, and William Dembski.

When I heard Alvin Plantiga not only endorse Intelligent Design, but then promote the idea that it should be taught in schools (a position that even the Discovery Institute opposes), I was stupefied. How could such a brilliant man promote such pseudo-scientific nonsense? I then posted on my Facebook the following:
"Watched a talk by eminent philosopher Alvin Plantiga on science and religion. I am sure that the biology department at Notre Dame must have torn their hair out after hearing it. How can a guy as bright as Plantiga say with a straight face that Darwinian evolution is "just a theory" and that intelligent design should be taught in the science classroom? I would expect such nonsense from George W. Bush, but an eminent philosopher? Holy cow....
Darwin, forgive him. He knows not what he does."
While my comment was generally well received by my friends, some were not so generous. My friend Scott Dodge (whose blog I recommend), commented that he agreed with Plantiga and that I had offered no meaningful argument against Intelligent Design theory in my post. This led to an argument between Scott and my mentor/friend anthropologist Brad Kramer, where Kramer offered an argument and Scott ignored him.

Since it is true I didn't give an argument in my post I will give one here. I will first talk about what makes a theory scientific, laying out the scientific method. After that I will discuss whether or not Intelligent Design makes the cut, and if not what to do with it. I will also give a reading list of some books to understand both sides better.

My philosophy of religion professor Brian Birch once said during class that before any science class begins, the scientific method should be presented. I agree wholeheartedly, and will begin with it here. The scientific method is the naturalistic inquiry that scientists use in order to discover truths about how the world works. In order to do so they build a hypothesis, go out and gather data, test and re-test the data, and then see if the data can repeatably reach the same conclusion. It should also be noted that in order for a hypothesis to be scientific it must be both verifiable and falsifiable as philosopher of science Karl Popper pointed out. Verifiable means that the hypothesis could be tested and proven correct, falsifiable means that the hypothesis could be under certain conditions proven false. For this reason, the question of whether or not God exists is not a scientific question because it is neither verifiable or falsifiable. A final crucial point is that science must be natural; appealing to unbroken laws and materialistic explanations. If supernatural entities come in the picture, it ceases to be science and becomes religion.

So, does Intelligent Design theory make the cut? Not even at all. Intelligent Design theory merely asserts that things look designed and therefore they are designed. However, that is not a hypothesis that can be verified or falsified, and is therefore not science. Secondly, Darwinism does not say that there is no design in nature; very much to the contrary. As historian of science Michael Shermer pointed out in an interview with Stephen C. Meyer
"You would have to be barking mad to think that life is not designed; but it is designed from the ground up."
In short, Darwinism says things are designed from the bottom up, Intelligent Design says that things are designed from the top down. The first is verifiable, the second is not.

 Also, they are wrong in there caricature of evolutionary theory. Natural selection is not random; mutation is random. Natural selection, as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has repeatedly said "is the opposite of a random process." Mutation is random because when it happens it may have no purpose; meaning it happens neither to help or hurt an organism; it just happens. Natural selection then comes along to perfect the flaw, or make better the state of affairs.

Intelligent Design theory gets it life from the fact that, as Scott pointed out, evolutionary theory has not answered every problem, and they therefore conclude it is therefore not science, or if it is that it is incomplete. Two problems with this. First, all science has unanswered questions; there would be no science if there were not questions (hence, a hypothesis is the first step). As philosopher of science Michael Ruse put it in his lecture Was there a Darwinian revolution?:
"Good science begins with a problem in the morning, solves the problem by lunch, and then goes to supper with two new problems"
Second, evolutionary theory has come a long way since the days of Charles Darwin. While Stephen C. Meyer points out in his book Darwin's Doubt that the Cambrian explosion (the sudden explosion of life 500 million years ago) is unexplained by Darwin in On the Origin of Species, this is a bit misleading. While it is true that this did trouble Darwin, keep in mind that Darwin did not have the fossil record we have now. The Cambrian explosion happened 500 million years ago, but we now have a fossil record that dates back over billion years, and is very much in line with Darwinian evolution. Also, Darwin had no idea about genes when he published his book, but now that we have discovered them as well as DNA and RNA, we are eons further than where Darwin was. Darwin laid a solid foundation, and we are continuing forward in building the majestic skyscraper. Are there still questions? Yes. We still have not figured out the origin of life, but given that we have learned so much, there is no need to think the problem can't be solved. Lets keep working until we crack the problem.

So what can we do with Intelligent Design theory? Some, like Brad, have said we can have the debate in philosophy classrooms. Michael Shermer has said that we could discuss it in current affairs and history classrooms. However, the best solution comes from the philosopher who was a pre-Darwin in many respects, the great David Hume:
If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”
Well put Hume. For any readers who want to know more about evolution and intelligent design, I suggest reading The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins for evolution and Darwin's Doubt by Stepehn C. Meyer for Intelligent Design. Another book I recommend is Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design, where he shows that religious people have nothing to fear from evolution.



Saturday, July 16, 2016

Conservatives: Cautionary or Reactionary?

With the announcement of Indiana governor Mike Pence as the running mate of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, I have to say that my feelings are a bit mixed. On one hand, I do like Governor Pence, and his voting record shows he was one of the most conservative congressmen during his tenure there (2000-2012), opposing Obamacare, bailouts, and the like. However, for a principled man to join forces with a very unprincipled one is shocking, even more so to say that Mr. Trump is showing the leadership characteristics of people like President Ronald Reagan. It is sad to see a good man succumb to the illusion of Trump, but suffice it to say I am even more comfortable now with supporting Governor Gary Johnson for president.

Last week, I talked about why conservatives should not vote for Trump, and that post was well received by many of my conservative and liberal friends. However, I did receive this comment from a friend who is a political philosopher:
"You and I disagree on what conservatism is.  You think, with Oakeshott and Sullivan, it is conserving “what works.”  I think that’s a tautology.  Everyone is for "what works” and changing “what doesn’t work.”  By this definition everyone is a conservative, which is, of course, nonsense.  The question is what we argue about when we argue about what works.  I think conservatism is a reactionary ideology to the distribution of equality and power.  Historically and ideologically, people with power do not want things to change much, and call themselves conservatives.  That’s simply the historical pattern."
Ok, let's break that down. First, I have never heard someone say that conservatism is a tautology, but I take the compliment. Second, his comment that we are arguing about what works is also somewhat of a tautology; if there were no disagreement there would be no politics. Conservatives tend to prefer tradition and are skeptical of radical change, while liberals prefer radical change and are skeptical of tradition- that is where the problem and difference really lies. This was well illustrated by Edmund Burke in his masterpiece Reflections on the Revolution in France, where Burke says that while he understands why the French are rebelling, he is very afraid that the way they are pursuing it will result in more problems than they originally had planned for, and he turned out to be right. The French Revolution led to more than just the oust of the royal family, it lead to thousands of deaths in the Reign of Terror that came after.

The last part of the comment is where liberals tend to get their conservative friends wrong, that we are "reactionary", meaning that we are against change. Philosopher Corey Robin in his book The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin makes this point the best, stating that conservatives have always been opposed to progress and want to keep power for themselves. He writes:
 "The conservative does not defend the Old Regime; he speaks on behalf of old regimes—in the family, the factory, the field. There, ordinary men, and sometimes women, get to play the part of little lords and ladies, supervising their underlings as if they all belong to a feudal estate . . . The task of this type of conservatism---democratic feudalism—-becomes clear: surround these old regimes with fences and gates, protect them from meddlesome intruders like the state or a social movement, while descanting on mobility and innovation, freedom and the future"
Nonsense. Edmund Burke and David Hume both supported the Revolutionary War. Andrew Sullivan was one of the most outspoken people in the fight for equal rights in the LGBT community. The Republican Party was far more progressive on civil rights for blacks than were their Democratic counterparts. I see in none of this the type of things that Robin is describing. Robin is creating a caricature of what conservatism is by pointing out that at times we conservatives have been on the wrong side of history. Of course that is the case. We are human and humans will be wrong many times; conservatives are no exception to the rule. But to say that we build our identity by preserving power for a certain group is clearly not the case. I plan after graduate school to write a book to counter Robin's claims in his book; perhaps we will be the 21st century John Rawls-Robert Nozick. Hey, I can dream can't I?

Conservatism, unlike what Professor Robin says, is not reactionary. Rather, it is cautionary. Reactionary means that you are opposed to change, this is not a trademark of conservatism. Rather, we are cautious about radical change, and want to ensure we are looking at all the consequences before we take action. Andrew Sullivan sums this up nicely when he states:
"Change should only ever be incremental and evolutionary. Oakeshott viewed society as resembling language: it is learned gradually and without us really realizing it, and it evolves unconsciously, and for ever"
So, we are not hateful, bigoted, angry, and stern as Professor Robin tries to paint. Rather, we are in some ways disciples of Charles Darwin (I am anyway), knowing that while change must come, it is not necessary that it be radical. It is perfectly rational to expect that change, like evolution, takes place over long periods of time without our noticing it. That is caution, not reaction.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Do Conservatives have a Moral Obligation to not vote for Trump?

Before beginning this piece, I would like to give my condolences to anyone who lost friends or family in these shootings, as well as a thank you to all men and women who serve in the police force. While there are bad apples, on the whole they do their best to keep us safe. If I have learned anything, it is that man's inhumanity to man is not dead; it is very much alive. And it our duty (not to be too much of a Kantian here) to extinguish it from the planet whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head, in any form that it appears in. We can do, I know we can.

On June 25th of this year, conservative author and commentator George F. Will left the Republican Party, the latest in a line of other commentators and politicians who decided to either leave the GOP or distance themselves from it with Donald Trump being the presumptive nominee. However, Will went beyond just leaving the GOP; he gave it some parting advice:
"Make sure he loses,” and “Grit [your] teeth for four years and win the White House"
So, it would appear that not only does Will think that leaving and not endorsing Trump are good moves, he also thinks that the party who nominated Trump should sabotage his campaign and guarantee that Hillary Clinton ends up victorious. I would simply remind Mr. Will that this will most likely happen without a sabotage, so this is a tad unnecessary.

The real question is now that Trump is the nominee, do conservatives have a moral obligation to vote for Trump or find another solution? Before addressing that question, 3 other things need to be addressed first: 1. What conservatism is 2. How a conservative approaches morality 3. Whether or not Donald Trump is a conservative. All three of these questions could be drafted into book-length texts, so I will just cover the bare minimums.

First, what is conservatism? That will depend on who you ask and where you go; British conservatives are different than American conservatives for example. But perhaps the best definition of conservatism comes from British philosopher Michael Oakeshott in his essay On being conservative:
"To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss".
Unpacking this a bit, a conservative is someone who prefers to keep traditions that work while discarding those that don't, has a skeptical view of life, tends to be pluralistic rather than dogmatic, and is pessimistic about future events because he/she realizes that the old adage "It is only going to get better" is in reality a myth.

Some readers at this point will be scratching their heads and saying "That doesn't sound like a lot of conservatives I know." This is likely true, but keep in mind that those who are generally called conservative are not necessarily adherents to the philosophy of conservatism; rather they tend to be right-wing extremists who don't really understand the philosophy they supposedly embrace. As conservative journalist and blogger Andrew Sullivan said in his blog post titled The Necessary Contradictions of a Conservative:
"A true conservative – who is, above all, an anti-ideologue – will often be attacked for alleged inconsistency, for changing positions, for promising change but not a radical break with the past, for pursuing two objectives – like liberty and authority, or change and continuity  – that seem to all ideologues as completely contradictory."
What this means is that conservatism is a method rather than a list of do's and don'ts. People who are committed to a fundamentalist view of the Bible, a religious attachment to the second amendment, an intolerance to change, and indifference towards minority struggle are not expressing tenets of conservatism; they are just being loud and obnoxious. I would encourage such people to read Oakeshott, Aristotle, David Hume, Edmund Burke, and other conservative thinkers, see what their ideas were, and then decide if they still want the conservative label to stick.

Second, how does a conservative approach morality? As noted earlier, conservatives are pluralists. For those unfamiliar with that term, pluralism is the belief that there is more than one way to approach a subject, and all can be right in some way. Thus a conservative can be practice virtue ethics (Aristotle), be a moral skeptic (Hume), be an egoist (Ayn Rand), or even be somewhat of a nihilist (Friedrich Nietzsche). Thus, pluralism is in between absolutism and relativism, and is perhaps the best way of looking at and uncovering morality (if such is possible.) Ultimately, no matter what the initial approach, a conservative will approach the ultimate question of "What shall I do?" through the view of individualism more than of society as a whole, since that is the only way morality can really be approached.

Finally, is Donald Trump a conservative? The short answer is I don't know, and I am not sure Donald Trump knows. He is not a traditionalist, has no sense of skepticism, is very absolutist, and while he is pessimistic in a sense, he is a bit more egotistical than anything. Not only that, Trump seems to have no plans on any policy other than "We are going to win", "It is going to be terrific" and "Build a wall". None of these strike me as remotely conservative; they strike me as dangerously childish.


"Ok Tarik, but he is better than Hillary Clinton!" First, since neither of them have been president yet, and more importantly both have not been president for a time and then we get to compare them, I am not sure about that. Secondly, even if Hillary were to win the presidency, it is likely that the House of Representatives and the Senate would remain in Republican hands, so her power would be limited anyway. Thirdly, as I said, conservatives are pluralists and this is a false dilemma; a choice between two things when a third alternative is  is available, namely Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate. Johnson is a two-term governor, he has supported traditional conservative positions such as limited government, low government spending, personal privacy, semi-strict interpretation of the Constitution, etc. If conservatives are unhappy with Trump, it is not like there isn't another gift-wrapped option.

So, to the question posed at in the title of this article, do conservatives have a moral obligation to vote against Trump? I would not say that they have the same moral imperative to vote for Trump that they would of saving a young child from drowning, but it would be in their best interest to see that he is not elected. He does not share their principles (if he has any), and ultimately he will make the country less safe and less free than a Hillary Clinton presidency would (no, this is not an endorsement of Secratary Clinton). If conservatives value conservatism, I would suggest they either vote for Gary Johnson, write in a candidate, or don't vote. A Trump presidency will not be a conservative embrace; it will be an embrace of a man who is in love with himself with no vision for the future. Choose conservatives. Choose.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

No John, He Didn't Say That

While coming home from work early Saturday morning, I saw in my Facebook news feed an article from Deseret News where they reported about a training that President Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve Apostles gave to new mission presidents before they entered the field. The article can be read in full here.

In the article, President Nelson mentions that the Book of Mormon coming forth was literally a miracle and a fulfillment of ancient prophecy, and that mission presidents should emphasize to their missionaries to teach the doctrines of the gospel from the Book of Mormon because of the power that lies in the text. This was not that revolutionary of a talk or an idea; the missionary handbook under the schedule section says that you should emphasize the doctrines of the gospel as taught in the Book of Mormon as part of your regular study. Also, the missionary guide Preach My Gospel has an entire chapter (chapter 5) dedicated to the Book of Mormon and how it is to be used in missionary work. I shared the post to my feed and thought that it contained some good ideas, and thought that would be the end of it.

Unfortunately, anti-Mormon propagandist and pseudo-intellectual John Dehlin just had to make this post about something it was not, as he usually does with most things. To quote from his Facebook page when he shared the article:
"This is so incredibly significant. It's a clear attempt at inoculation on the part of Elder Nelson for new mission presidents, but it is also a very clear admission that:
1) The Book of Mormon lacks any meaningful scientific or historical credibility (thus the recent overhaul of FARMS/the Maxwell Institute to move away from trying to justify its scientific validity). So if the Book of Mormon doesn't meet the standard of credibility, then you must lower the bar of expectations about it ("Not scientific! Not historical!).
2) These troubling facts about the Book of Mormon (made pervasive by the Internet) must clearly be negatively affecting many people's testimonies, or an apostle wouldn't be running around making statements like the one below (basically lowering people's expectations about the scientific accuracy and historicity of the Book of Mormon).
Fascinating times. The most fascinating thing of all perhaps is that in many cases, the inoculation appears to be working for many of our youth, like a missionary I spoke with on a flight last week. He was aware of the main issues found in he CES Letter and was able to parrot the new party line without any detectable dissonance.
Will be interesting to see what the next 10 years bring for LDS disaffection rates.
“There are some things the Book of Mormon is not,” President Nelson said. “It is not a textbook of history, although some history is found within its pages. It is not a definitive work on ancient American agriculture or politics. It is not a record of all former inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, but only of particular groups of people.”

For my part, I still do not know how this man got a PhD in anything, because he clearly can't read. But allow me to quickly address the two points that he made (which if he could read he would notice is the same point being made twice).

First, his idea about "meaningful scientific or historical credibility." I know for a fact he knows that Terryl Givens wrote a book with Oxford University Press titled By the Hand of Mormon where he discusses all the historical information about the Book of Mormon as a document, and provides evidence for its historicity. I know this because John Dehlin had him on his podcast for four hours discussing it, and he made no counterarguments to what Givens was presenting. Give it another listen John.

Second, President Nelson, in Dehlin's own quotation, does not state the Book of Mormon is not a historical text, far from it. To quote it again:

“It is not a textbook of history, although some history is found within its pages. It is not a definitive work on ancient American agriculture or politics. It is not a record of all former inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, but only of particular groups of people.”

So,  what President Nelson is stating is that the primary purpose of the Book of Mormon is not to teach people about the history of the peoples of the western hemisphere, as some in the past have believed. Rather the Book of Mormon's primary purpose is to lead men to Christ, and to accept him as the promised messiah. This does not mean that President Nelson denies the books historicity; he states in the same sentence that their is historical information in the text without making it the primary purpose of the book to be a historical treatise.

As for his second claim of inoculation, President Nelson is doing no such thing. He is not changing doctrine, or adding much nuance. He is merely stating the same principles which are on the title page of the Book of Mormon:
"Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations"
In short, the Book of Mormon writers were not doing in their history what David Hume was doing when he wrote The History of England; they were giving their testimony to us that Christ had ministered to them and that the same Christ still cares about us today. The historical part is merely secondary, but it is there.

John, please stick to.... Whatever it is you are good. Making arguments are not your thing. I say this as a ... listener of your podcast who occasionally enjoys it.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Free Will and Salvation

Sorry to have been away from the blog for a few weeks; things have been hectic. Will have to blog several times this week in order to meet my goal of blogging once a week this year. Anyways, I will be back on  a regular schedule now, and still plan to do my Aquinas and are Mormon's Christian series, as well as whether conservatives have an obligation to vote for Donald Trump. But more on that later.

On my last post Day of Gratitude, I received a comment that I think is worthy of a post in response. I always enjoy comments, so feel free to leave them, I will always respond (though not necessarily with a post.) The commentator, Collin Simonsen, said this

"Your comment on fate reminds me of a philosophical/religious question that I've been pondering. I wonder if you'd tell me what you think. The question is this: can we permanently mess up someone else's chance to go to the Celestial Kingdom. Let's say that someone is interested in the church, but I offend them and they are turned off. What I want to believe is that if they would chose the church under ideal circumstances, but not when members are setting bad examples, then they will have a real chance later on. I want to believe that we can postpone someone's salvation, and cause them grief, but we don't determine their ultimate fate. They freely choose to do so. What do you think?"
This question is really two: 1. What is the nature of free will 2. What role do others have the plan of salvation? Let's start first with the question of free will.

Philosophically, there are three ways of approaching free will, namely determinism, compatibilism, and libertarianism. Determinism is the view that all things are causally determined and that there is no free will By causally determined, I mean that if A occurs then B will occur and that will always be the case. Determinism is not the same as fatalism however, at least not in all cases. Determinism says humans are causally determined, fatalism states that everything happens for a reason which cannot be changed. In other words a determinist will say "I have no free will", while a fatalist will say "There is nothing else I could have done." Philosophers who are determinist  would be people like Baruch Spinoza, Sam Harris, Dennis Potter, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Compatibilism is the belief that human freedom and determinism are compatible beliefs; or that there is no contradiction in holding the beliefs at the same time. As philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said " A man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills."  Here is a good for instance. Say an attractive female walks bye, and you immediately have sexual thoughts about her. That part of you is determined by evolution, you have no control over it. However, you do have a choice as to whether or not you walk over and talk to her, walk away, or start thinking of something else. Thus while you are causally determined to think about sex, you are not determined to commit a sexual act. Thus you cannot control your will, but you can do what you will. Compatibilist  philosophers include Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine of Hippo, and myself.

Libertarianism is the belief that you are not causally determined and that belief in determinism and free will are incompatible; for this reason libertarians are also called incompatibilists while compatibilists are often labeled soft determinists. On this view, you are free to do what you want and there is nothing that makes you think or decide on a certain course of action; you freely choose. Libertarians include William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantiga, Richard Swinburne, and Blake Ostler.

Now that we have fleshed out the approaches to human freedom, I must admit these are very brief sketches and refer readers to books such as Elbow Room by Daniel C. Dennett for more thorough treatments of these topics.

Mormons I think would have to be either compatibilists or libertarians on this issue since the scriptures make it clear that to some extent we have a choice. Take 2 Nephi 2: 27 for example :
"Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself."
From this scripture, it is clear that we have freedom in some sense, but it is particularly relevant to the question of whether we are responsible for others not joining the church. While I was on my mission in Alabama, my mission president once told the story of a man who had been tracted (had his door knocked on) by missionaries and had been busy so gave them his number and told them to call back, but as they waled away he saw the missionaries playing around and then told them he wasn't interested. My mission president then said that the missionaries were responsible for this man not joining the church.

This is a bit of a stretch however, and relates to Collin's question. It is true that church members, being human, do things that offend people, but does that make them responsible for people not joining the church? Not according to this scripture it doesn't. People are free to choose, even if they are determined in other ways. Often times, what people do has almost no relevance to whether the truths of Mormonism have any waight or not, people are often looking for a way to not join because they know the demands Mormons make on their members. This is not to say that we should not be polite, encouraging, and welcoming, but only one person is responsible for their own salvation : You.

Hopefully this answers your question.