Commitment 2.5 - Quasi-propostional beliefs
From page 113
Religious doctrines, rites, and liturgies are only diversely connected sets of examples that serve as public entry points into the vast network of mostly unarticulated commonsense beliefs that nearly all human beings share or have ready inferential access to. In fact, the so-called norms and values of religious traditions are not rules, principles, axioms, or injunctions with fixed factual or propositional content. They are public representations of quasi-propositional beliefs. Quasi-propostitional beliefs may have the superficial subject-predicate structure of ordinary logical or factual propositions, but they can never have any fixed meaning because they are counterintuitive. Their cognitive role is to mobilize a more or less fluid and open-textured network of ordinary commonsense beliefs in order to build logically and factually impossible worlds that are readily conceivable, memorable, and transmissible.
One of the complaints against Mormonism is the ever shifting theology and doctrine. Religious attackers get frustrated as they assume religion should be creedal based and definite. Our open theology can be very frustrating because there seems to be such a church emphasis on religious conservatism and orthopraxy. In essence, they are attacking our beliefs as too quasi-propositional, just as Attran attacks religion in general. Personally I think many of these attacks come because people fail to account for vagueness and propositional uncertainty. Outside of faith in Christ, repentance and baptism, theologically, Mormons are pretty open about the uncertainty, or more accurately the lack of importance of much else. Sure conservatives may not come across this way, but chances are if the prophet told them things had changed, they would be quite accommodating. (look at polygamy WofW, black & priesthood, etc). In this sense, the fluidity LDS have with theology may partially arise from the lack of fixed meaning towards other's revelations.
As I mentioned over at ISSUES IN MORMON DOCTRINE, I think revelatory experiences can never be communally applicable. For them to have any weight, they must be experienced first hand. The fluid nature of quasi-propositionals ensures that we must always search for meaning that is ever changing. From Attran's point this makes religion a costly wast of resources. From a Mormon perspective it forces one to seek grounding spiritual experiences. In this light, scriptures are less about certainty of meaning than they are keys for enabling equivalent personal experiences.
The problem arises with the apparent ease we have in creating, and building upon counterfactuals. We tend to take these relatively rare personal experiences and feel free to apply them where we will. We seem to have a tendency to turn them into fantasy, or at least use them to justify other pleasing fantastical assumptions.. Perhaps it is just me, but I think we may abuse the reality of these experiences if we use them as an excuse not to deal with reality. There should be no caveat assumptions that things will work out when Satan is bound. There should be no assumptions that communal issue problems will be worked out once society is purified. It seems to me that the reality of the gospel indicates that there are workable solutions available. It is the working through these solutions that creates the fantasy that we may envision. Dreams are ethereal until somebody puts them down on paper and gets busy making them.
religious counter-intuitions...draw attention to those aspects of the world that people wish were otherwise. Such counter-intuitions evoke other, logically and factually impossible worlds that are nonetheless readily conceivable because they leave intact most of the everyday world - minus a few worrisome facts and inferences.