Rational belief and rationalization

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Critics frequently argue that—unlike believing Mormons who supposedly grasp at straws and rely on irrational feelings to support their beliefs—they (the critics) are rational, logical, and rely on the findings of science and empirical evidence for their beliefs. On an on-line discussion board populated by ex-Mormons who gather to vent about their former faith, one poster—using the screen name “Baffeled [sic] and Bewildered”—recently asked, “Why do intelligent people still buy into the [Mormon]…lies?”

…I wonder how they can continue to buy into the idiotic apologistic explanations provided for facts that any logical thinking person should see right through.

…Then there is the whole DNA thing…. [Y]ou don’t even have to be intelligent to understand that one, and yet they just accept the stupid, unintelligent, ridiculous explanations put out by the church and their idiot apologists.

Among the varied and numerous responses to we read the comments of “SusieQ#1” who assures the ex-Mormon crowd that Mormons believe because of “faith, not…facts.”

It’s very important to remember, the lack of factual evidence of golden plates, angels, or people places or things in the BOM [Book of Mormon], the BOA [Book of Abraham] translations, etc, does not matter. It doesn’t matter one bit. None of those things are necessary for belief by faith. God works in mysterious ways, god [sic] can do all things.

Also, remember that it is a lack of faith that requires evidence and proof. (That’s Biblical!) That is a crucial point. Can’t ignore that important part of belief by faith. The other very important point: Emotional bonding to traditional beliefs even if they are weird superstitions overrides logic and reason if one is constantly immersed in talk that is “truth.”

“Stray Mutt,” another frequent ex-Mormon poster, claims—in response to “Baffeled and Bewildered’s” question—that Mormon’s “believe because they want to. They have a picture of Mormonism in their head. It only vaguely resembles reality but it’s what they want to be true.”

So according to a number of critics (and many similar citations could be given), when it comes to religious beliefs, Mormons are illogical, irrational, and biased. Mormons supposedly support their belief with feelings and disregard logic and evidence because accepting the empirical data would cause their world to collapse.

As I demonstrated in Shaken Faith Syndrome, however, Latter-day Saints not only have rational reasons for believing the truth claims of Mormonism but all people—including critics—often rely on irrational feelings and bias in weighing evidence for important matters such as religion. In chapter 2, for example, I pointed out that, according to an informal 2001 poll of several ex-Mormons, over half said that nothing could cause them to return to Mormonism (p. 13). A recent discussion on the ex-Mormon discussion board solidifies the findings of this poll. On 19 August 2008, one anonymous critic asked his fellow critics:

If genetic anthropologists proved that Native American DNA matched Israeli Jew DNA, what would you do? …[I]f evidence started to point decisively in the direction of [Mormonism]…, would you believe again? …How much evidence would it take for you to concede a point in the [Mormon Church’s]…scientific favor?

Some of the replies were interesting as well as telling. “Randy J.” replied:

No, because the BOM was discredited long before DNA testing existed…. The DNA results merely confirm what we already knew. The only way that any DNA testing could ever support the BOM would be if they were faked or misread. There’s no evidence whatsoever anywhere in the Americas to show that the people and cultures described in the BOM ever existed.

What interesting circular logic. According to this critic, DNA science proves that the Book of Mormon is fictional. If DNA science were to confirm the Book of Mormon, then the DNA science must be fake or misread because we already know that the Book of Mormon is fictional. “FlattopSF” likewise responded:

No. Even if there was evidence for EVERYTHING, I would not. I am logic and science oriented, but there is another whole dimension of this that you are not presenting: Mor[m]onism is a murderous fascist cult. What amount of “factual evidence” can possibly justify that?

It would not matter to “FlattopSF” if all the evidence incontrovertibly pointed to the veracity of the Book of Mormon. Because he/she believes that the Church is a “murderous fascist cult,” none of that evidence would matter. “FlattopSF” would still reject belief in the prophetic abilities of Joseph Smith because “factual evidence” could not possibly justify what he/she sees as the atrocities supposedly committed by the Church.

Above, I quoted “SusieQ#1” who claimed that Mormons override “logic and reason” and ignore “facts” because they believe that any evidence contrary to their belief is simply God’s way of working in “mysterious ways.” When she responded to the query regarding hypothetical DNA evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon, however, she said:

Any evidence (DNA or otherwise) that supports the BOM will be strictly coincidental. Imaginary people do not have DNA! The BOM is about imaginary people, places and things that are believed by a testimony by faith and “spiritual eye” witness.

Just because other people believe it, does not make it factually true. There are no evidences for the BOM. There never will be. That’s the beauty of it!

So according to “SusieQ#1” there can be no real evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon. Why? Because the Book of Mormon is fictional. How do we know that it’s fictional? Because there are no real evidences in favor of the book. What do we make of “any evidence” in favor of the Book of Mormon? It’s merely “coincidental” because the Book of Mormon isn’t true.

It seems odd that people who claim that Mormons are illogical and simply rely on “feelings” refuse to accept any logical, rational evidence in favor of the Church because they already know it’s not true. It gets worse, however. As I noted in my book:

Some ex-members have even claimed that if there was irrefutable evidence that Mormonism was true, they would still reject the Church and rebel against God because of the things they found distasteful (p. 13).

Readers may have wondered if, in writing the above, I was engaging in hyperbole. Some of the comments to the DNA-as-evidence question, however, demonstrate that such a hatred of Mormonism and LDS beliefs is so strong that there really are people who would reject God even if they knew that the LDS faith was true. As “Heresy” wrote in response to the query:

I left before I knew of any historical issues. I left because I didn’t want to worship a God with such an ego that He demanded worship, and needed so many silly rituals and ordinances. …I also didn’t like the idea of a God who would speak directly to old white guys and not me. The history problems are just icing on the cake.

It wouldn’t matter to “Heresy” if the LDS Church was true. I wouldn’t matter if God really spoke to Joseph or that Jesus visited ancient America. S/he does not like—what s/he understands to be—the characteristics of the Mormon God, and therefore would reject the Church even if it was true.

Earlier I quoted “Stray Mutt” who claimed that Mormons believe “because they want to.” Mormonism, s/he assures the ex-Mormon crowd, only “vaguely resembles reality” but is accepted by Mormons because of their desire for the teachings to be true. In other words, Mormonism is not true; it’s a figment created by the false hopes and the desires of gullible Mormon members. However, in the thread asking if ex-members would believe again if DNA evidence favored the Book of Mormon we discover that for “Stray Mutt” truth is irrelevant.

Long before I decided the BOM was fake, I realized…I couldn’t embrace the foundations of LDS or Christian theology. It doesn’t matter to me whether the BoM people actually existed. Even if Jesus and God were to appear to me, I’d say, “Sorry, but your system is screwed up and you’re [&#@%]…. In fact, punishing me forever for being true to my convictions instead of pretending I love you guys just shows what [&#@%]…you are.”

Apparently “Stray Mutt” has such a distaste for what s/he perceives as the characteristics of God, that s/he would not only reject such supreme beings (despite their existence) but “Stray Mutt” would like to tell such divine beings that they are not as smart as s/he is. Their way of running the universe, according to “Stray Mutt,” is “screwed up.” It’s interesting, in light of such arrogance, that the English word “apostasy” comes from the Greek apostasia which means to “defect” or “revolt” and has even referred to political rebels.

While Mormons are often accused of rationalizing their beliefs, it becomes apparent (as I argue in Shaken Faith Syndrome) that there is much more to belief as well as disbelief than feelings and empirical evidence.

114 thoughts on “Rational belief and rationalization

  1. Allen Wyatt

    Fascinating post, Mike. I have noticed the same things as I have periodically read the postings of critics. To borrow scriptural imagery, they cannot clearly see the mote in another’s eye because of the beam in their own.

    It is a purely human condition to which we are all subject at one time or another.

    -Allen

  2. Marcus Brody

    It is, indeed, unfortunate when disillusioned people reject God in the midst of rejecting their religion.

    Here is a question for you, however. It is a “flip-flop” kind of question of the statement posed on p.13 of your book. “If there were some irrefutable evidence that Mormonism was false, would you still accept the (LDS) Church?” If your answer is “Yes, because I know it to be True”, then you are no better than those you criticize.

    I do enjoy irony. I found a wonderful example when I went to Merriam-Webster online to verify your explanation of “Apostasy”. When I looked up that word, a banner ad for LDS came up on the same page. I have a “print-screen” jpg on my website for your viewing pleasure.

  3. NOYDMB

    Great post, Mike.

    I think this is a good example for how someone could continue to resist the spirit throughout the spirit world. Sometimes I’ve thought to myself that I couldn’t understand how one could resist the spirit throughout their existence in the spirit world. I thought, wouldn’t they just HAVE to realize they were wrong and change. Obviously not. Some people are just too proud. So then I ask myself, how do I ensure I’m not that proud. Good things to think about.

  4. Seth R.

    Marcus,

    The original point was that ex-Mormons are generally no more rational than Mormons, and just as guilty of “magical thinking.” That was Mikes original point in the post.

    To which you respond – “well, Mormons aren’t any better, so there!”

    ….

    Dude, way to miss the point.

  5. Seth R.

    That said Mike, I can’t criticize some of the stubborn defiance posts too much.

    If you didn’t have faith in God, if you didn’t have that emotional connection, and nothing about God personally appealed to you…

    Why would you worship him, even if you did have proof he exists?

    For all you know, he might be some Stargate-style evil system lord. Sure, he’s all powerful. But that doesn’t mean you ought to worship him. Maybe you’d prefer death or punishment, rather than bow to such a being.

    This is something that I’ve pointed out that our Evangelical friends sometimes just don’t get.

    Even if the historical case for Jesus were airtight (which it is not), so what? He could be a space alien. He could be magic. But why the Son of God? And why should I worship him?

    This is why the oft-repeated Evangelical claims that THEY have hard evidence for their religion – unlike those irrational Mormons – is not only silly, but completely misguided.

    In the end, the empirical evidence isn’t going to get you from here to there. You can’t gain a testimony on historical and archeological evidence. There HAS to be that emotional connection. That matters just as much as any empirical evidence.

    That said, yes… Many of our critics do show as great deal of self-unawareness. I have rarely encountered an ex-Mormon who didn’t leave for emotional as well as evidentiary reasons.

    They’ll talk about how their parents or Church leaders let them down emotionally. They’ll talk about betrayal. They’ll talk about damaged self-esteem. They’ll talk about getting bored. It goes on.

    These aren’t really empirical reasons for leaving – in the sense of being reasons that all of us would be forced to agree with. Rather, they are emotional and intensely personal reasons.

    At the core of every ex-Mormon who talks about DNA, lying Joe Smith, false doctrines, and whatever else… is a person who was emotionally hurt, divorced, or angered by the religion they grew up with. And that emotional experience matters – a lot.

    In the final analysis, I’d say it actually matters a lot more than all hard evidentiary stuff they tack on later. This is why, even with evidence supporting the Church, their hostility must remain. The Church hurt them, and that is what matters most.

  6. Marcus Brody

    Seth,

    “well, Mormons aren’t any better, so there!”

    Good one. You should have added a “pphhhbbbbtttttt” for effect. That would have REALLY zinged me!

    So, Seth, how would YOU answer my question: “If there were some irrefutable evidence that Mormonism was false, would you still accept the (LDS) Church?”

  7. Seth R.

    Depends what you mean Marcus.

    The options aren’t just stay faithful or leave and fight it you know.

    There are already people who go to LDS meetings every week and don’t believe the historical claims of the LDS religion. On the internet, they sometimes go by the label of “New Order Mormons.” They go to church or for family, cultural, social, and even spiritual reasons. But they do not believe a lot of the Church’s claims.

    If I felt like I had irrefutable evidence that Joseph was not a prophet and the Book of Mormon was a hoax, I might go that direction myself. I have a lot of good reasons to remain active in Mormon life that have nothing to do with a lot of its faith claims.

  8. Allen Wyatt

    Marcus said:

    “If there were some irrefutable evidence that Mormonism was false, would you still accept the (LDS) Church?”

    For me the answer is no, I wouldn’t. If I came across irrefutable evidence that it were false, I would be gone in a heartbeat.

    But, the answer to your question is more complex than it first appears. “Irrefutability” is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. What is irrefutable for you may not be irrefutable for me. Plus, if I have found what I consider to be irrefutable evidence it is true, any supposedly irrefutable evidence it is false would need to somehow “trump” that earlier evidence. That is, for me, a very high standard to reach.

    Others’ mileage may vary, of course.

    -Allen

  9. Marcus Brody

    Allen,

    Thank you for your answer; one that I can understand and even agree with.

    Seth,

    And I thank you for YOUR answer, too. I find it sad, but at least I think you were being honest.

    Your tone has much more to do with it than you think. For your written tone exposes your mental tone.

  10. Allen Wyatt

    Seth said:

    Many of our critics do show as great deal of self-unawareness. I have rarely encountered an ex-Mormon who didn’t leave for emotional as well as evidentiary reasons.

    Great comment, Seth (the whole comment, not just this excerpt). It reminded me of a Sunstone presentation by another Seth (Payne) that I enjoyed tremendously. He analyzed the exit narratives of 136 people and looked at their commonalities. Very interesting.

    -Allen

  11. Mike Ash

    Marcus, you asked: “’If there were some irrefutable evidence that Mormonism was false, would you still accept the (LDS) Church?’” If your answer is “’Yes, because I know it to be True’”, then you are no better than those you criticize.

    If there was– what I saw as– irrefutable evidence that that Mormonism was false, I would leave. If God or Jesus came to me & said that it was false, I would leave. As Allen notes, irrefutable could be a tough determination. If, for example, a document was found — written by Joseph Smith — that laid out his plan to con the public with a fictional Book of Mormon, that would do it. Obviously, there would be the question of authenticity (shades of Hoffman), but if I believed that the document was authentic, I would have no reason to remain a member. If pages of 1 Nephi were found in a sealed trunk that could conclusively be dated to before 1820 and written in the hand of Solomon Spalding, I’d see no reason to believe. It might be difficult to prove that these items were authentic and verify the handwriting, etc. But if the evidence for their authenticity was overwhelming I think you’d see a mass exodus.

    While it would be more difficult to show conclusively that the Mormon Church was false, it wouldn’t be impossible (in the minds of most people). The same thing could be argued, however, to show conclusively that the Church was true. Without a direct visit from God– which, as noted above, some would still reject– what evidence would be conclusive? If a Mesoamerican inscription was found that said, “Nephi was here in the land of Zarahemla,” it would convince some but not others. Some would argue that the inscription is misread or fraudulent (see the comments in my original post). Others would argue that it’s concidental or that there would be variant English translations/transcriptions (which would likely be true). For those who don’t “want” to believe, there is no evidence that would be conclusive.

  12. Marcus Brody

    Mike,

    Thank you for your answer. I do agree with you. It all boils down to faith. It can’t really boil down to feelings about being right or wrong, for the Bible tells us that our hearts are wicked and deceive us. (Jeremiah 17:9) So, we have to have faith.

    A problem exists when we hold evidence to be true that we simply WANT to be true and all evidence points to the contrary. Sometimes, no matter how convincing that evidence turns out to be, it simply won’t be “irrefutable” because we don’t want it to be.

    I really do appreciate your honesty. Thank you.

  13. Huston

    Mike, this is one of the most brilliant posts I’ve ever read. I’d like to link to it and comment further on my own own blog soon.

    Seth, as to your concern about God being a “Stargate-style evil system lord,” that’s the beauty of the nature of the Book of Mormon: not only does its authenticity automatically establish the reality of God, it also demonstrates unequivocally that He is benevolent.

    And again, Mike, this is truly top-shelf stuff. Keep it up!

  14. BHodges

    Marcus:

    You have brought up what I like to call the “secular golden question.” I’ve been asked the same by several who have left the Church. Perhaps some who ask this question believe that faithful members of the Church are simply incapable of seeing the possibility that Mormonism is false, or maybe they think that it will cause a person to realize how unfounded or weak their faith is. I personally think it is a good question for people to consider, though it doesn’t seem calculated to do anything but imply that another people are fooling themselves.

    I don’t know that I would stick around as Seth R. said he might, were I to discover some kind of irrefutable evidence that JS made it all up. I might find another cause to work with.

  15. Seth R.

    It also can’t boil down to empirical data either, because such data is not available to fallible and limited human beings.

  16. Karen L.

    Mike,

    My husband left the Church two years ago. He’s still very bitter about it, and he and loves to “enlighten” me about things that concern him about the Church. I’ve read your book because I felt I needed to be stronger. I’ve learned I am justified in how I feel about the Church, and now I understand better how he feels and why he left. I don’t want that to happen to anyone else I know.

    I was glad to read this post and I am passing this link along to others in my life.

    Thanks for writing the book – unfortunately, I suspect there will be more need for it all the time. I’m doing my part to innoculate my children as best I can.

  17. Mike Ash

    Karen, I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s struggles with belief. I have people close to me who also are struggling and some who have left the Church. Religous matters involve very personal choices, personal faith, and personal paradigms. Since there is no way to compell others to belief (and this is just as it should be) the best we can offer for those who struggle are the spiritual and intellectual tools that we find useful and hope that they use those tools to their benefit.

    I’m convinced that God loves those who struggle and fall away just as much as He loves those who stay. Only He knows all of the circumstances that lead some away from the Gospel. I’m confident that He not only wants us all to find true happiness, but he allows water to seek its own level– so to speak. He is merciful as well as just, and therefore we can never pre-judge the eventual outcome of those who reject the Gospel in mortality.

    I’m glad my book offers you some help and I thank you for your comments.

  18. Steven Danderson

    Marcus Brody asks, “If there were some irrefutable evidence that Mormonism was false, would you still accept the (LDS) Church?”

    Unfortunately for you, Marcus, that question is moot. At this side of the Last Judgment, such “irrefutable evidence” doesn’t exist–either pro or con. Regretable, we humans tend to demand–overmuch–black-or-white conclusions, and, just as regretably, because we are humans–with both good and bad (the former from God, the latter from the fall)–we just aren’t going to get black-and-white conclusions–or evidence.

    So, let me rephrase that question: “If there were some unimpeachable evidence against Mormonism, would you still accept the (LDS) Church?”

    The answer to THAT question is that it depends on the nature and weight of that and other negative evidence, and the nature and weight of all the evidence FOR Mormonism (and there is plenty of that!).

    I’m not going to ditch Mormonism for some minor nit against Joseph Smith’s character–not with all the POSITIVE stuff about him! 😉

  19. Marcus Brody

    Blair,

    Thanks for your answer!

    Steven,

    I was simply using the statement posed by Mike Ash, as referenced on page 13 of his book, as the basis for a different question of the same or near nature.

    But nevertheless, thank you for your answer as well.

  20. Kent G. Budge

    Marcus,

    I remain a member only because of continuing revelations from the Holy Ghost to me.

    Were I to receive a powerful revelation telling me to leave the Church, I would certainly do so.

    However, if you equate this continuing revelation with mere “feelings”, then you don’t have a real understanding of the experience. Which kind of stands to reason, since if you understood, I think you’re probably an honest enough man to have joined the Church.

  21. Angry Mormon Man

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only people crazier than mormons are anti-mormons. After reading those comments it would seem that their side has way too many dim witted, narcissitic cynics, and not enough real skeptics. A problem akin to that of modern agnostics.

  22. Steven Danderson

    You’re welcome, Marcus! 😉

    The problem is that, absent Divine assistance, no human can afford the cost of Gospel knowledge! It requires infinite intelligence, and infinite resources. This is WAY beyond the constraints of humanity as a whole, let alone any one or group of humans.

    Allen is right. While you may be convinced by a bit of evidence, I may find so ridiculously inconsequential–or worse, and laugh it out of my “court”. And vice versa.

    For example, I find in the Book of Mormon detailed accounts illustrating economic concepts that were only beginning to be developed–in the mid-to-late 20th century. To me this represents a mind behind the Book that is well beyond a well-educated man of the early 18th century, let alone a man with only a third grade education. After a series of “hits” in such fashion, all that was left for me was to find out whether that well-developed, advanced-beyond-human-capacity mind was God or Satan. Since God graciously supplied me with an answer that I cannot deny, here I am.

    On the other hand, unless you read the Book of Mormon carefully, and received some training in the relevant disciplines, such “hits” might very well completely escape your perusal.

    I suppose that was why William Buckley–in his book, “The Jeweler’s Eye,” said that faith is a GIFT.
    😉

  23. Horse Sense

    I get frustrated at those who attempt to explain the horses in the Book of Mormon, and irritated at the critics who claim they were not here. As no one has given a good answer, let me throw in my two bits.

    Read the link below, but only a few lines, don’t waste your time with all of it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_horse

    “Horses appeared to be absent from the Americas until the Spanish Conquistadors brought domestic horses from Europe in the 16th Century, and escaped horses quickly established large wild herds”.

    How could they “appear to be absent” when no European saw America until at the same time that they released the horse? And this was in Mexico and Florida where the releases occurred. Horse country in the great plains did not “appear” in the eyes of Europeans until 140 years later, and then it was filled with horses and Sioux riders. The only thing that “appears to be absent” is the human intellect, when such a flawed logic is still believed as fact.
    The idea that all horses came from Europe is not science. It was opinion. The first fossil of a horse in North America was found and given to Thomas Jefferson more than 200 years after everyone “knew” that horse were not here until the Spanish. He never commented on the horse fossil, and this would never be accepted as science under any other study. The American inhabitants have been lied to yet everyone accepts it and lives in this lie.
    Next, Charles Darwin found a horse tooth in South America but no one challenged the lie of no horses before European contact.
    In 1848, Joseph Leidy attempted to settle the question by publishing that there were two species in North America found in fossils, but they were not the same species as the European horse.
    He had logical difficulty in his conclusion: “For it is very remarkable that the genus Equus should have so entirely passed away from the vast pastures of the western world, in after ages to be replaced by a foreign species to which the country has proved so well adapted: and it is impossible, in the present state of our knowledge, to conceive what could have been the circumstances which have been so universally destructive to the genus upon one continent, and so partial in its influence upon the other.”
    Recently, the excuse for the horse extinction in America was blamed on ice-age man overhunting it. Along the way, everyone has forgotten that nobody saw horse country until after the European horse got loose. No European could firmly declare that there were no horses prior, because they had no way of knowing.
    Finally, with the wild horse enthusiasts in the United States trying to stop the slaughter on BLM ground, DNA tests have been done with “wild horses” and compared to DNA taken from sample of frozen “extinct” carcasses in Alaska. It has now been established that they are not different species. The enthusiasts might win on the grounds that a native animal was once gone but re-introduced in the 1500s. I for one would like to see the lie of no horses before Columbus removed.
    The Lakota had horses before the European people arrived. Even the Navajo knew that the horses in Utah had been here first.
    Those who want proof and then use the flawed logic of 500 years, a lie, to call the Book of Mormon a lie should do their own homework first. And please don’t tell me to believe that a horse is really a tapir. Thank You.

  24. KingOfTexas

    When I was 17 I took some college courses, (computer languages). When I came home from college I applied for a job at a prestigious CPA firm on the 18th floor of a bank in San Antonio, TX. I had “faith” I was going to get the job. I don’t know why; but I knew I was going to get the job. I didn’t think I was going to get the job. I didn’t hope I was going to get the job. I “knew” I was going to get the job. I can even tell you why I shouldn’t have gotten the job. There was a woman with a bachelors’ degree and a man with a master’s degree that applied for the position. Oh, and the courses I took were from a maximum security reform school. I had plenty of reasons why I shouldn’t get the job.
    My mother told me in her motherly way; “David why don’t you apply at some other places for different jobs?” She was trying to spare my feelings.
    I stopped at a department store across the street from the bank and applied for a stock boy position before I went to the bank. My Mother asked me to. They told me I wasn’t qualified. 🙂 Go figure. I went across the street to the bank and they told me I was hired.
    Remember that maximum security reform school? I was sent there because I ran away from home then I escaped from the minimum decurity reform school. That is also where I found The Book of Mormon that a guard had brought. I’m really going to have to thank that man.
    Faith is a gift from God, but we must nurture our faith to keep it strong. Faith is like a muscle. If exercised, it grows strong. If left immobile, it becomes weak.
    We can nurture the gift of faith by praying to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ. As we express our gratitude to our Father and as we plead with Him for blessings that we and others need, we will draw near to Him. We will draw near to the Savior, whose Atonement makes it possible for us to plead for mercy (see Alma 33:11). We will also be receptive to the quiet guidance of the Holy Ghost.
    We can strengthen our faith by keeping the commandments. Like all blessings from God, faith is obtained and increased through individual obedience and righteous action. If we desire to enrich our faith to the highest possible degree, we must keep the covenants we have made.
    We can also develop faith by studying the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets. The prophet Alma taught that the word of God helps strengthen faith. Comparing the word to a seed, he said that the “desire to believe” can lead us to “give place” for the word to be “planted in [our] heart[s].” Then we will feel that the word is good, for it will begin to enlarge our souls and enlighten our understanding. This will strengthen our faith. As we continually nurture the word in our hearts, “with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.” (See Alma 32:26–43.)

  25. Telpeurion

    Horsesense, you are only half correct; there were horses on the American continent… but they had been extinct for nearly 10,000 years. There have been no fossils discovered that didn’t date that old. Horse BONES are not fossils by the way, it takes time for fossilization, and the bones that have been found are European stock and dated to the colonial period. What say you?

  26. Emma's Flaming Sword

    Before I left the church I finally realized that God was not talking to me. Some man said that God had told him that I should do this and do that. When I grasped the reality of this I decided that I had better get to know this man, Joseph Smith, a little better. I discovered many troubling things such as child brides, failed prophecies, illegal banking, and so on. The story that sent chills through me was his “marriage” to Fanny Alger. I found nothing faith affirming in it. I thought that it was disturbing. I guess that I am just illogical to be disturbed to his secret marriage to a 16 year old housemaid. I wonder what spirit is telling me that this unsettling. Is the Holy Ghost giving me feeling that it is wrong to marry little girls behind your wife’s back? Or is Satan telling me that it is wrong to marry little girls behind your wife’s back? Because the “spiritual” witness that this is wrong is undeniable.

  27. Emma's Flaming Sword

    The point I was trying to make was that I started out on a rational fact finding mission. I wanted to know who was Joseph Smith. But it was my emotional response to the facts that led me to reject the church. So I think that it is a mischaracterization to claim that all ex-Mormons claim to be rational, scientific, and logical about leaving. I spent a lot of time reading, pondering, praying and the bottom line was the way I felt about the facts. It was reason and EMOTION that I relied upon for my decision.

  28. downinutahcounty

    Mr. Ash, as I read your post I can see how your reasoning is done by way of “Mormon Think”.

    You bring up certain points about ex-mormons that attempt to show that they all use emotions and absolutely no logic in their decision to leave the church. While that may be true of some, just as it is true of some members who believe because of emotions, it is not true of most.

    In fact, a few of the posters who responded to your opinion stated that as though it were fact. The reasons people leave the church are because they are sexual deviants, because they want to drink or smoke or use drugs, or because their feelings were hurt. Most Mormons believe that no one will leave the church for any other reason.

    There are many facts that one could rely on if using logic to know beyond any doubt that the church is not what it claims to be, but unless a person actually opens their eyes and ‘Sees” these facts, nothing is going to change their mind. I believe the thing that is most difficult to overcome when dealing with religion is the “feeling” that all believers base their faith on. “Feelings” will out weigh facts and hard evidence every time. “Feelings” require no basis for their existence, they require no proof, they simply have to have existed within the person at some time and that is all that is required to base their entire life on. The strange part is that Muslims have the same “feelings” about their beliefs as do Mormons, Hindus, Catholics, and all other religions. In fact many religions of the world experience these “feelings” to the point that they will give their life for the religion they have based their “feelings” on.

    With that said, it is no surprise that Mormons will deny all factual evidence contrary to the church. It is no surprise that President Hinckley can state that the church is based on the first vision and if that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny then the church is false. Yet just a little research will show that the first vision he was talking about was not even written until 1838, 18 years “after” it was supposed to have happened, and that the first published vision, written by Joseph himself is absolutely nothing like the one Pres. Hinckley made his statement about. Now if he was truly the prophet when he made that statement, then logic should follow that if you can see factual documented evidence that the first vision is in fact fiction written 18 years after the vision was supposed to have happened then the church is false based on the statement by Hinckley. You can go on all day about the B of M, DNA evidence, and all those other issues that are constantly debated but the bottom line is that all it takes is one simple statement made by the prophet and a little research to see that none of the other issues matter, because the church is based on a foundation of fictional literature. No feelings required for this one, no emotions either. Simple logic is all that one needs. Yet, you and all other Mormons will find a way to rationalize around this fact because you don’t “want” to see the facts.

  29. Mike Ash

    downinutahcounty,

    First, I think you’ve misread my post. I didn’t say or imply that all ex-Mormons “use emotions and absolutely no logic in their decision to leave the church.” I don’t believe this is true and therefore this is a mischaracterization of what I was stating. The last sentence in my blog article says in part, “there is much more to belief as well as disbelief than feelings and empirical evidence.”

    As I point out in Shaken Faith Syndrome, I believe that the reasons for belief and unbelief can be complex. The point of my blog article was to deal with the claim (as you ironically repeat above) that Mormons “don’t ‘want’ to see the facts” and rely strictly on emotions whereas critics/ex-Mormons simply rely on “logic” because that “is all that one needs.” The quotes in my blog article demonstrate that this is not true for all critics (and I doubt for any critic).

    I hope you realize that there is no compelling “factual documented evidence that the first vision is in fact fiction.” You are free to reject the First Vision but it has not been shown to be fictional by emperical evidence– you must bring other assumptions to the issue in order to accept as evidence those things that support your view that it didn’t happen.

    If you haven’t actually read the blog article, you may revisit it before making the ironic charge that believers “will deny all factual evidence contrary to the church.” Just as there are critics who would deny the Church even if God Himself told them otherwise, I’m sure there are believers that would accept the Church even if every bit of empirical evidence pointed toward a fraud. There are people in both camps, however, that include both logic and emotion in their decisions to accept or reject LDS truth claims.

  30. Rational Soldier

    Maybe we should toss a couple more things in the mix here.
    How many times was Joseph Smith married..Hmm according to the church’s own genelogical information(yes it’s there folks -look it up)34 times..Some of the wives were married to tother men at the time. Perhaps this should be spoken about and not swept under the rug.
    One other little “chesnut” that should be discussed is the fact that apparently Christ died to atone for the sins of ALL mankind, but according to the LDS church, this isn’t quite right- Why? because because people of African descent-or “coloreds” as my Grandfather used to say- apparently did not have their sins atoned for- and were greatly dicriminated in the church- and still are today in the church. Maybe by the second coming they will finally become “white and delightsome”

  31. Rational Soldier

    Although I am an aethiest, I am a student of religeon. i grew up in the LDS church and still have scars to prove it. As a student of religeon, all religeon, I am of the firm belief that the LDS church is not Christian, it is actually more like voodoo. That is not a joke-I will explain.
    The foundation of Christianity- basically agreed by Christian churches- is John 3:16. A scripture unrecognized in word and deed by the LDS church. “For God so loved the world that he gave his ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, that WHOSOEVER(that includes black people or “darkies” in the words of SWK, homosexuals, people who do not tithe, serve a mission, occasionally masturbate, like a beer, and have an aversion to short sleeve white shirts)believes shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
    This is the concept of “grace” a concept that is unrecognized by the LDS church, as they believe that salvation comes only from deeds-like voting against prop 8.
    Most churches consider “making a miracle” to be heresy. Mormons believe in it- that is why they carry oil on their key chains. The only two major religeons that agree with that are VooDoo and Alcoholis Anonymous.

  32. ?

    This post is attempting to paint “ex-Mormons” with a single brush stroke. Of course there are irrational (in the academic sense) displays within this community, just as the LDS community. However it seems a bit out of place for a quasi academic apologist organization to challenge the credentials of amateur critics known only by their blogging screen name. It might make sense if we were responding to direct attacks in a discussion, but another thing entirely in a dedicated post. It is as ridiculous as the amateur claims that Church members are brain-washed drones. Again, this might work if the context were along the lines of Bushmans presentations regarding those who struggle with faith. This post however seems to attempt to criticize amateurs much in the same way one would a scholar or an “expert” for a published position

  33. Mike Ash

    Rational Soldier,

    While these issues are interesting and certainly deserve attention, they have nothing to do with the topic of this particular blog post.

  34. Mike Ash

    Rational Soldier,

    As per your first post, this has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Perhaps you could focus on the main subject.

    Also, you should read “Offenders for a Word” and write a cogent rebuttal before posting the canard that Mormons are not Christian. Once you’ve posted your response to that book, please let me know and we can deal with that issue seperately.

  35. Mike Ash

    ?,

    My post deals with one small part of a discussion in Shaken Faith Syndrome. As I noted in my original post and my earlier post today, you’ve misunderstood me if you think I’m painting all ex-Mormons as being irrational.

    I acknowledge that some people reject Mormonism for what they believe are evidences that point to fiction and fraud. My book and post (and this post was written as some supplementary information that I found interesting in light of what I had written for my book) simply shows that the following argument– frequently made by some critics– is wrong: Mormons rely on “feelings” or “emotion” and disregard all contrary evidence whereas smart people (i.e., those who have rejected Mormonism) put aside feelings and simply engage the facts.

  36. Rational Soldier

    Btw I think it has everything to do with this post. The church refuses to admit to it’s history-
    The church refuses to open up its safe.
    This dishonesty kills people- lets remember here that Mark Hoffman is in jail for MURDER…something that never should have happened with the mormon special magical power of descernment.
    So in addition to promoting a patently false cult religeon that kills people, you are taking time to go after its critics individually. this is irrresponsible and to state that my postings do not belong here is just wrong.
    You are a self proclaimed apologist for the LDS church..If you are going to be an apologist you should answer the questions instead of “Sarah Palin” deflections.

  37. Rational Soldier

    I havre read that book-in fact I own it-it is in my fantasy collection-
    The only hope of the LDS church is to outbreed those who leave. Younger mormons leave Utah, they have to. Tbeir houses are being forclosed on, and good jobs are not there, because they are a right to work partiarical state, with its vast majority of youg people drowning in debt( and then PAYING in to the cult)
    Your church sends out it recruiters(missionaries) with so little money that they should be on food stamps!
    You may consider your priesthood powerful- but it is no match for Google. People will investigate and realize that the wizard is just a man behind the curtain-making some of us question the decisions of our ancestors. I like to think they were looking for some good farm land when they followed Brigham.

  38. Mike Ash

    Rational Soldier,

    While you certainly have a list of fascinating topics to debate, you’re not adding anything to this particular discussion. Please post your extemporaneous thoughts elsewhere.

    If you have a cogent rebuttal to “Offenders” please post it somewhere so it can be critiqued.

  39. Jeremy

    In the end, your argument doesn’t matter. Whether or not those ex-Mormons were collaborating illogically is irrelevant. Many things disprove the LDS Church’s claims, like the teaching of Blood Atonement and chaning revelations. Try attacking the message and not the messenger instead of the other way around.

    By the way, many were NOT hurt emotionally by the Church, and in fact would love it to be true for convenience sake. All their family and friends they’ve known their whole life believe and it would be so easy to go along with it. Accepting the truth can be very hard. To lump a whole group of people as “emotionally bitter” is just stupid.

  40. Cowboy

    “you’ve misunderstood me if you think I’m painting all ex-Mormons as being irrational.”

    Fair enough, sorry for the misunderstanding. I am still surprised that a post on a site like this would be dedicated to irrational critics of the Church. Certainly unintellectual vents waged by disgruntled former members is of little threat to the Church and/or its academic communities. Nor is giving credence to absurd presumptions from amateurs necessary defending the faith. There is a great deal of scholary criticism waged against the Church which this organization has served to combat, I guess I just expect those types of issues to be at the forefront of the debate. Sorry for intruding, just my two cents.

  41. Horse Sense

    Telpeurion Says:
    “Horsesense, you are only half correct; there were horses on the American continent… but they had been extinct for nearly 10,000 years. There have been no fossils discovered that didn’t date that old. Horse BONES are not fossils by the way, it takes time for fossilization, and the bones that have been found are European stock and dated to the colonial period. What say you”?

    Until Thomas Jefferson received the first horse fossil, there had been no evidence of horses before the European. You missed my point, which is that a mindset had been made. You state that bones are European stock, and yes, by radiocarbon dating that is correct.

    But you missed the point on the distinction between European and Ice-Age. The decision by Joseph Leidy was that there was a different species in America that went extinct. Genetic research has shown that as a species it was the same.

    Now define European stock bones. Vast unexplored grasslands of North America existed when the European horses were released. Later, the horse was seen in “feral herds” in northern plains areas and assumed to have been from what the Spaniards brought. The continent was contaminated and crossbreeding was possible before the exploration was complete.

    The first horses ridden by indigenous people in Mexico and the Southern United States had Spanish brands; it was clear where they came from.

    But to the north, there was a “horse before the horse”, described by the Lakota as red and curly haired, running with the buffalo. This they had and used. They said there never were very many.

    Zebra run with other mammals for protection from predators and the Sioux identified a horse running with buffalo, a horse different than the other horse.

    The genetics of the curly gene source are still a puzzle.

    Mike Ash, I have read your report before. Why are you are so entrenched in Meso America and limited geography theory? Joseph Fielding Smith warned against that and Mark E. Peterson and Marion G. Romney both wrote and spoke about North America, even after visiting with Ferguson on site in Mexico.

    My concern about the horse has nothing to do with proof for the Book of Mormon. The arguments of science to claim that the only horse was introduced by the European are today entrenched in academic dogma.

    Attempts to prove the Book of Mormon concerning horses gets lumped together with the viking lore. Along the way, true science becomes contaminated by nut-cases.

  42. Mike Ash

    Jeremy,

    I’m not lumping all ex-Mormons into one category. I’ve repeatedly said that there are many complex reasons for belief and unbelief. The entire point of this post– which seems to have been missed by some people– is that a number of critics typically lump Mormons into one category, a catetory that supposedly relies strictly on emotion and sticks their heads in the sand when confronting with conflicting evidence. While there certainly are Mormons who may do this, I don’t believe it’s typical. And it’s hypocritical for some ex-Mormons who make or imply such charges who would turn around and stick their heads in the sand if confronted with evidence for LDS beliefs.

    As for specific arguments, you can find nearly any answer you’re looking for on FAIR. I was engaging the message– a double standard message advanced by *some* critics.

    And you’re right, the truth can be hard. It’s interesting therefore to see that *some* critics would fight the truth even if it was inescapable.

  43. Horse Sense

    Mike Ash, the website below describes a significant victory. It was in fact a massacre. There are still people alive who knew survivors of it. No reputable historian calls this murder of women and children a victory. All newspaper sources of the time including New York Times, Deseret News and Millennial Star reported accuratley what occurred.

    http://www.lds.org/gospellibrary/pioneer/19_Ash_Hollow.html

    The Horse and Tapir argument of nearly 2000 years ago is pointless. Those who survived this atrocity have a “myth” of the horse before the horse. Is theirs any less valid than yours? When the focus was shifted to Meso-America, the LDS began disregarding the American Indian. The result is the wording of the website.

    Ferguson fell from the same tower you are trying to climb. It is one thing to discuss and consider “truth” of 1600 years ago, but reality would require honest dealings with the living as well. They deserve better than “significant victory” to describe the last rifle shot echoing with the screams of a child.

  44. Chris Maloy

    This was an interesting blog, but I have to add my 2 cents.

    As a person with shaken faith syndrome I can not speak for all the pissed of exmormons out there, but I can speak for myself. I think the writer is making HUGE generalizations based on the sample size of a few.

    My first point is, not everyone falls away from Mormonism because of the facts. Some people use the facts to justify their lifestyles. These are not seekers of further light and knowledge, as they would be the ones to deny it anyway. The writer made that point clear.

    Also understand that most of the people on exmormon are very angry and pissed off. Anger is a powerful emotion and when you feel that you have spent a good part of your life doing something that is not true, you are mad as hell. It is kind of like trying to think rationally when you are in the middle of a fight. You can’t (unless you have been trained and disciplined). The writer describes this as well as even non-believers using feeling and emotion to make a stance.

    Getting on with my point.

    If we saw evidence (real verifiable evidence using the scientific method) about anything religious or Mormon related I would be much more inclined to believe and accept it. How can you not? The more outrageous the claim the more proof you will need. In fact I am praying and hoping that at least a few of the dominoes line up. PLEASE LORD. When they do, I will be skeptical (cause it is my nature) but if it is true then that will hold the test of time and trial.

    The reality so far is that church is FULL of contradictions and falsehoods. The more I learn about the world the less brilliant it looks through the eyes of religion (even Mormonism). Things do not add up. Things do not make sense. As Jacques Fresco said, “As the amount of information of a society increases, the amount of metaphysical and belief will go down.” It has been proven time and time again. We saw as the amount of church information increased during the time of Martin Luther and Calvin, the questions concerning the Catholic church began to go wild. People started thinking for themselves.

    The more scientific we become the less religious we will be. You wont ask for blessings when you get Strep, you will only make a trip to your primary physician and ask for a prescription for Amoxicillin.

    I will end on a recent story. A very good friend of mine yesterday, who I usually have very thought provoking conversations with (moved here from San Bernadino) told me that humans will never make it to space, or have medicine that will replace organs because we are running out of time. Those discovers would mess up the plan. He told me to look around and see that the time is nie, the second coming is almost here. Never mind who gets elected for president, Jesus is coming anyway and this is all part of the plan. I told him that is no reason to NOT do anything about Global Warming, the problems we have, and try to get to space and regrow organs in a lab even if it messes up the plan. I told him if you can’t turn the Earth to glass, burn the wicked, and immortalize all the humans in a blink of an eye (because they live all over the solar system) then make up a new damn plan.

    He asked me to look at what is going on and to reflect on the second coming. I did. My conclusion… I have lived in a time where we have not had to draft any young men to war. I have been free to pursue an education and choose my career. We live longer now and have come so far because of science. I know the world has bad in it. It has always had bad in it, but our standards of life are WAY BEYOND our grandparents and it has not been because of church policy or religion.

    I got off on a preachy tangent, but my point is not every person with shaken faith syndrome falls into the camp this writer explains. Some of us are really looking for the truth (and yes that can be faith based as well but I have not found it there yet).

    CM

  45. Mike Ash

    Chris Maloy,

    Thanks for your thoughts. There is no HUGE generaliztion being made. There was no generalization being made. I was writing about a very specific claim made by *some* critics and showed that some of those who make the argument do so with great irony.

    I also somewhat disagree with your belief that as we become more scienitific we will become less religious. I don’t totally disagree because I think there is some truth to this. Studies show, however, that a large number of scientists are believers in the divine and other studies show that increased education with Latter-day Saints typically increases religiousity.

    There are many educated LDS who take both medicine for strep *and* ask for a blessing.

    You also make the unsupported implicatino that those who accept the “metaphysical” do not “think for themselves.”

    Nevertheless, I can apprecaite that a number of people will see no need for the divine with an increased scientific discoveries.

    Lastly, I disagree with your claim that the Church is “FULL of contradictions and falsehoods.” I recognize that there are problems with every institution with which man has dealings, but you are the one making a “HUGE generalization” and an inaccurate one to boot.

  46. Horse Sense

    Mike Ash:

    You claim the horse was a Tapir. I showed you a North American legend of a horse before Columbus.

    I asked why your myth is valid but the legend not. Incidently, the Winter Count keeper who recorded the myth survived a massacre that the LDS calls a victory.

    So my question is, why only Meso-America, and why the disregard for the American Indian?

    My conclusion is that you play with fantasy such as writing books to “expand on the Hobbit”, and ignore living people who are being disrespected by your Church.

  47. Mike Ash

    Horse Sense,

    You are wrong that I claim the BoM horse was a Tapir. I suggest the possibility. I also acknowledge the possibility (in fact, I favor the possibility) that some horses survived in the Americas from ancient times.

  48. Rational Soldier

    Horses? what about steel. barley. and elephants?
    Let’s set the story straight here. The LDS church has systematically LIED about its true history and they know it. Joe Smith stole the BoM from Stanley Rigdon. Then went on to run for president, and simultaneously King of the World(a calling that could actually only be filled by Howard Stern, not to mention being an out of control horn-dog. Brigham was a ruthless, bloody, greedy dictator.
    When the LDS church systematically denies and covers these FACTS up it loses any sense of credibility. Shame on you for promoting such crap that really hurts people and families.
    Many actual Christian circles(non mormon) consider Boyd KKK Packer’s “For Young Men Only” sermon to be the most destructive sermon ever. People killed themselves over this crap perpetrated by the LDS cult.
    In addition-bishops doing temple recommend interviews in which they ask adolecent cboys and girls about masturbation habits belong in JAIL…That is not dicerment, that is disgusting perversion. period…

  49. Chris Maloy

    Thanks for your thoughts Mike. Perhaps I am making some HUGE generalizations as well and I need to be careful of that. I hope you accept my apology.

    I do stand by my belief there are many contradictions and falsehoods. Anyone who knows the history of the church or the doctrine will attest to this.

    A few Sunday’s ago I was watching the Primary President teaching my children from an approved manual that Noah marched two of every animal on the boat and set sail as the antediluvian became a reality. This was being taught to my kids as complete truth. My daughter raised her hand and asked, “How big would a boat have to be for two of every animal?” The teacher replied … really big, nothing is impossible for the Lord though. Would you say that was a falsehood? This was from a manual of the church as approved doctrine to teach children. I ask again, a falsehood?

    I have many more examples I can share if you want, but I want to avoid an argument forum. I appreciate your stance on things and respect you in your beliefs. I often take a defensive stance for LDS moral beliefs and culture, but I think you presented a very narrow minded view of all of us with shaken faith.

  50. Mike Ash

    Rational Soldier,

    Please take your off-topic diatribes elsewhere. Or at least actually respond to the apologetic arguments rather than resorting to the “liar, liar, pants on fire” methodology.

    If you would like to discuss each individual issue (rather than your shotgun approach), why don’t you write individual articles that address the already-published literature and we can go from there.

  51. Mike Ash

    Chris Maloy,

    Apology accepted.

    I don’t believe in the traditional Noah account either, but I also don’t believe that those who believe it and promote it are engaging in “falsehood” (which implies lying). A number of non-LDS Christians accept the traditional account as well and I don’t think they’re lying. I disagree with their interpretation. As I point out repeatedly in my book, Church leaders are humans with divinely called positions– that doesn’t make them non-human, infallible, or inerrant.

    We shouldn’t expect leaders (including prophets) to know everything about everything. Ancient prophets likely believed in an Earth that was completely unlike the shape that we know today. That didn’t make them non-prophets, it made them human. They can both be human and still receive revelation on the “expedient” things we need to know to draw closer to God.

  52. Chris Maloy

    This is my last question then. How can one such as I know when a prophet is speaking as an infallible man or as the spokesman of God? They lead you to think that everything they say while being influenced by the spirit is the word of god when in reality they may be speaking as infallible men.

    What would you say if you heard this: 1 Feb, 1849 – First counselor Heber C. Kimball tells Sunday meeting that plural marriage “would end he said when the Church had gone to the Devil or the Priesthood taken from this people – then God would give it to another people.”

    Of course we chalk that up as nonsense along with Blood Atonement and Adam God theory, but when those prophets spoke they never said, “this is my opinion as a man.” They lead the saints to believe it as the word of God.

    Once again I appreciate the discussion. I know we have gotten off the topic of your post, but you are very solid in your belief and I enjoy your understanding. I am not trying to missionary or persuade anyone in anyway. These are just questions in my own mind. I will be back to read more of your post. Cheers.

  53. Chris Maloy

    I forgot to put this in my last post. Falsehood is defined as this on Webster’s dictionary online:

    It is a noun.
    1 : an untrue statement : lie
    2 : absence of truth or accuracy
    3 : the practice of lying : mendacity

    Noah’s flood is a falsehood. It is taught as truth and is absence of truth or accuracy, an untrue statement. Second definition.

  54. Mike Ash

    Chris,

    The traditional story of Noah’s flood could be considered a falsehood based on definition #2. Both #1 & 3#, however– and IMHO modern vernacular– implies deceit. I prefer to say that the traditional account is, in my estimation, inaccurate.

    How do we know when a leader speaks the word of God? The onus is on *you* to make that determination (see http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Brochures/What_is_Mormon_Doctrine.pdf and http://en.fairmormon.org/Fallibility_of_prophets) for a couple of brief thoughts on this topic.

    And while not all leaders preface their remarks with “this may contain some of my own thoughts and opinions” there have been numerous comments by leaders (including prophets) that they are not infallible and that *we* should seek the confirming spirit to know if what they say is God’s will (Brigham Young made several such comments).

    I spend some time in my book talking about this very issue. Prophets are called as leaders– human, fallible leaders– who help guide us to a relationship with the divine. Their role is help *us* make that connection, that relationship. Salvation is personal, covenants are personal, a relationship with the divine is personal. Prophets can’t do this for us. We are solely responsible for knowing what God wants, what is God’s will, and how we must change to become the kind of person that God wants.

    We should take seriously all those things taught by the Brethren, but we shouldn’t accept them blindly. If we can’t receive our own revelations on a particular topic, then it seems wise to follow their counsel in faith, trusting them because we have a witness of their their calling. As Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (John 17:20).

  55. Horse Sense

    Micahel Ash,

    If we can set myths aside for a moment, it is a truth that a massacre occured on September 3, 1855. There are still people alive who remember the younger survivors. The Official LDS website I referenced earlier continues to call this a “significant victory”.

    “Book of Mormon Lands” lead far too many away from history’s most recent events.

    Thank you for letting me point out how a people with a similar legend of horses is in reality degraded today by an organization that also has a foundation in ancient horses.

  56. Horse Sense

    And a massacre is not a significant victory. Name spelling is important, isnt it? My entire point is that you promote Meso-America, and yet an official LDS link is far more insulting to many more people than your name spelling. How about you spend some time trying to help fix that with your historical research? It was not in the distant “mythical” past.

  57. Mike Ash

    Horse Sense,

    What’s unimportant– for this particular blog entry– are your off-topic posts. You obviously have something to say, fine. Say it elsewhere. Post it on a message board where other interested parties can respond. Maybe I’ll even peek in if it suits me. This might be an interesting topic for another time, but not on this particular blog thread. You’re barking up the wrong tree and trying to hijack a blog thread that has nothing to do with your one-note somba.

  58. Horse Sense

    “Critics frequently argue that—unlike believing Mormons who supposedly grasp at straws and rely on irrational feelings to support their beliefs—they (the critics) are rational, logical, and rely on the findings of science and empirical evidence for their beliefs.”

    A rational support of a belief includes a critical comparison to another group who holds a similar one. The group who was massacred are the only North American Indian tribe who put in writing a belief in the horse before Columbus. (See Battiste Good’s Winter Count)

    I asked a rational question: Why does the official LDS website continue to call the massacre a “significant victory”?

    You have not displayed a rational answer, and this supports the topic of your blog, with you moving in a direction I did not expect you to take it.

    I am not a critic of the LDS church, but I am a critic to the official website link of “significant victory” and had hoped that this FAIR blog could help to address it.

    What is irrational is your failing to see how on-topic this was.

    “As I demonstrated in Shaken Faith Syndrome, however, Latter-day Saints not only have rational reasons for believing the truth claims of Mormonism but all people—including critics—often rely on irrational feelings and bias in weighing evidence for important matters such as religion”.

    It is irrational to ignore my question and claim that it was off-topic, when through it you have shown yourself to respond with irrational feelings.

    The only thing that has been hijacked is the LDS faith, by FARMS. It would seem that the apologetics do not believe in the truthfulness of the LDS faith, but like Thomas S. Ferguson, they believe it to be a good organization. The attempted answers to critics are simply to provide support for those who still believe.

    A claim by critics is that no American Indian record referenced Horses before the European, yet I have shown that one does, and that the LDS Church degrades this people. I have asked why. (What I have shown is far more substantial than another apologetic’s reference, found on FARMS, to an email concerning Cherokee legend).

    It is not a one-note somba, but as an experiment with the one who asked the first question, you have shown your own results.

    Now, if you have a sincere testimony of the truthfulness of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and with your years of research and credibility as a published author, help to fix the wording at the Ash Hollow official LDS website. It is simply irrational not to.

  59. Gail F. Bartholomew

    This is a interesting discussion. I think we can see that just how much literalism we advocate as a church is very nonspecific. Questions such as did creation happen in six thousand years or is genesis completely figurative I believe are pretty much left to the individual.

    I did not know how far this could go until I was working for a pest control company in UT. I went to spray a home in Orem. There were books everywhere many on South America. I could also tell this was the home of an active LDS member. Interested by the plethora of books I wanted to find out who the person was behind all this. I asked the gray haired gentlemen what he did. He told me he was a Dr. of archeology at BYU and his specialty was Central and South America. So I said so you do Book of Moron stuff? No I only do science. I went on spraying a bit perplexed. When I finished I asked him to clarify his statement. I explained my confusion based on seeing many Books of Mormon and sighting other evidence that he was active LDS. He explained that his testimony of the Book of Mormon was based on the fact that it is an amazing theological document, but it did not happen in the Americas.

    This experience stayed with me. I have since read things like Karen Armstrong’s The Bible a biography. She is a very well recognized biblical scholar. She claims that there is very good evidence that much of the bible was written for political purposes at later dates than they are claimed. She would tell you little of the bible is literal, but she believes very strongly in the transformative power of the Bible as a spiritual not a literal document.

    I now question the importance of the questions like horses in the Book of Mormon. Just as we now know the Pearl of Great Price is not a literal translation of the scroll Joseph Smith translated it from. Why is literalism important when we are asking if something is transformative in our lives?

    The whole question if we had proof of the falsehood of the church would we leave it quite strange in nature. I think proof of falsehood is easy to find if that is what we are looking for. That is if we are speaking in a literal sense. The question I think is “is the church truly a positive transformative effect in our lives?” If it is not than why not? If it is because of us than we need to change, in what ever way we need to to have positive transformative experiences in our lives. If it is because of the church, the doctrine, or the leadership than we should leave.

  60. larry

    I wonder if Abraham would still have been able to almost sacrifice Isaac, if he was hearing from everyone that he had an imaginary friend? I imagine he had a comparable amount of adversity that lead him to wonder if he was truly deluding himself at times. I doubt adversity changes much, it just adapts.

  61. flattopSF

    So it appears that Mr. Ash, who showed up on a fishing expedition at the Recovery From Mormonism website a few months ago, was, as suspected, fully intending to gather information which could be used to demonstrate why people ditch the Mormon church. He freely critiques my post, but fails to ask why I call the Mormon church a murderous fascist cult. I would have thought that anyone who wanted a FAIR (pardon the pun) and true analysis of the reasons people leave Mormonism would at least want to know the WHY as well as the wherefore. Instead, Mr. Ash would rather act like a junior version of Daniel C Peterson: attempting to discredit and deny the experience of a disillusioned former member rather than politely inquiring as to the reasons for my claim and gaining further light and knowledge. This is not the practice of a legitimate fact-seeker. This is the backhanded double-dealing of a cheap apologist.

  62. Seth R.

    Anyone who calls the LDS Church a “murderous facist cult” doesn’t deserve anything more than a contemptuous dismissal.

    Your comments do not paint you in a flattering light. You look like just as much of a blibbering idiot as the people you claim to be critiquing.

    Take a couple Prozac and try again.

  63. Deconstructor

    Mike, I’m sorry I missed your visit to the Recovery from Mormonism board. But I did want to share with you my perspective on the question you asked there.

    If the basic truth claims of the Mormon Church were proven, then of course I would go back. I would be a fool not to, if in fact Kolob existed, and Mormonism was my only way to return to live there with Elohim.

    I side with the truth and the facts, no matter how disturbing they are to me personally. That’s why I left the church when I saw the facts. As much as I loved the church, I couldn’t live a lie and be fed lies and told what to do and how to live by other men who were pretending to have divine authority.

    And let’s be clear on what I mean by truth claims. The Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland said in plainly:

    “Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church…”

    “To hear someone so remarkable say something so tremendously bold, so overwhelming in its implications, that everything in the Church — everything — rises or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and, by implication, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of how it came forth, can be a little breathtaking. It sounds like a “sudden death” proposition to me.”

    “Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is or this Church and its founder are false, fraudulent, a deception from the first instance onward.”

    “Either Joseph Smith was the prophet he said he was, who, [1] after seeing the Father and the Son, [2] later beheld the angel Moroni, [3] repeatedly heard counsel from his lips, eventually [4] receiving at his hands a set of ancient gold plates which [5] he then translated according to the gift and power of God—or else he did not.
    (Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, “True or False,” New Era, June 1995, Page 64)

    I agree with Elder Holland. Either the Book of Mormon is the literal history from golden plated and the Angel Moroni, or the Mormon Church has been a fraud from the beginning.

  64. Mike Ash

    Deconstructor,

    Thanks for your comments. Despite what is claimed on the Recovery Board, I never visited RFM with any questions that relate to the topic of this blog post. I made a visible appearance when a relative of mine on that board made mention of our relationship and my recently published book, Shaken Faith Syndrome. The material for blog post came from several lurking visits to the Recovery board over a period of time.

    Putting aside the existence of Kolob for the moment, I’m glad to hear that you would return if the evidence were persuasive for the truth of Mormonism.

    I also agree with Elder Holland’s position. Obviously I find that the secular and spiritual evidences favors belief while you don’t. That’s ok and I can certainly appreciate that not every one is persuaded equally by every evidence– if that were the case there would be very little differences of opinion on a variety of topics.

    The point of my blog post (which I had not submitted to the posters of the Recover board) was to show that _some_ critics claim that Mormons ignore all evidence and rely strictly on feelings for their belief in Mormonism. I pointed out that _some_ critics also ignore all evidence (or at least proudly claim that they would ignore pro-LDS evidence) and rely, instead, on feelings for their rejection of Mormonism.

  65. flattopSF

    To Set R. (and by extension, Mr. Ash …again):

    You wrote: “You look like just as much of a blibbering idiot as the people you claim to be critiquing. Take a couple Prozac and try again.”

    First, Mr. Seth R.: “blibbering”? What is that?

    Second, Mr. Seth R.: Thank you for the suggestion, but I am not inclined to pop pills when faced with ugly truths. That would be an attempt to deny that there are ugly truths in the world. That is an unrealistic point of view to take, is it not? It would seem, however, that many Mormons ARE heavily addicted to Prozac and other legal and illegal drugs. Why is that?
    http://www.drugrehabreferral.com/states/utah
    http://phn.ctlbyu.org/?p=23
    http://www.squidoo.com/prescriptionaddictiondeaths

    Third, Mr. Seth R.: Thank you for proving my point. It is far easier, not to mention far more intellectually lazy, for yourself and Mr. Ash to attempt to discredit me, attack me, and deny my documented and valid reasons for ditching the Mormon cult than it is to simply ask one serious question: “Why?” …and wait for a serious answer. And then to accept that answer as valid.

    Why is that so, Mr. Seth R.?

    It seems that it is far easier for yourself and Mr. Ash to arrive at your foregone conclusions by attempting to assign all of my reasons for leaving the Mormon cult to some kind of vague insidious “feelings” I must have had. I assure you that is not the case.

    All either of you had to do was ask, but neither of you did. He did not ask because he did not want to know: his findings would not have supported his foregone conclusions. That is pretty lame scholarship on Mr. Ash’s part. What is your excuse?

    Are you so insecure that you can not allow that openness of dialog to happen? It would seem so.

  66. Seth R.

    I have no interest in dialogue with someone who throws around labels like “murderous fascist cult” like candy at a parade.

    So frankly, I don’t care if we get to have a respectful conversation or not. Attempting to try would seem to be a waste of both our time.

    As it happens, I do have respectful dialogue with plenty of ex-Mormons and participate regularly on some of their blogs. But your comments do not really encourage me to think that talking to you would be a useful exercise. My time is already spread thin. I don’t have much of it to waste on you.

    And don’t pretend you were even interested in a two-way conversation with me either. You don’t throw around the kind of rhetoric you have thrown around if you’re interested in talking to faithful Mormons. So you can drop the sanctimonious “dialogue” act. You’re not kidding anyone here.

  67. flattopSF

    To Seth R.:

    Thanks again for proving my point so succinctly.

    It is always easiest to defend the indefensible by prejudging, discrediting, denying, damning, belittling and castigating without any dialog at all and without any knowledge of the facts. Allow me to call to your attention that in neither of your responses do you bother to ask what my valid evidence is. In fact, in your second response you actually iterate that you do not intend to ask. All of which exemplifies intellectual laziness in its most common form: willful ignorance.

    Don’t worry about referring me to other examples of your supposedly respectful dialog: I’m well aware of the level of respect you display toward those you neither know or wish to know about.

    But hey — please accept my congratulations in advance, Seth R.! I’m sure you and your attitude are very busily aiming for the rarefied heights within your cult. According to the laws of physics, hot air does quite often go in that direction. Good luck with it in the real world, though.

  68. LDS921

    yes yes, we must explain the “apostates”. When we view them we have to look for some pattern to describe their behavior, because this behavior is most unbecoming of a saint of the lord. Assuming they left for good reason is unthinkable. There is no good reason for leaving the church especially when you said you knew it was true. As stated by many here, leaving based on emotional or evidences is preposterous. You will notice that all ex-Mormons have left because of emotional or evidential circumstances. We must rely only on faith, because we have already proven the truth by testimony and prayer. external evidences and emotions should be immediately disregarded due to invalidity. (i.e. Book of Mormon location, etc.) of course there would be no other reasons to leave, because as i stated above, leaving the church is unthinkable. I mean they are turning against all the evidence we have taught them in church. all of the people in testimony meetings have brought in the spirit and proven to them that it’s true. but thats not good enough for them, so they have to rationalize their actions because deep inside they feel so guilty for doing what they know is wrong.

    man, i would be a wonderful LDS apologist. too bad i’m too wrapped up in my circular logic to see through to the truth.
    now, as you may have guessed, i’m not lds. now also, your filter has come to see me as an ex-mo, and therefore anything i say is put in a certain compartment in your brain: the trash bin.

    It seems that you want to understand the ‘apostate’, while actually all you want to do is wrap them in one nice neat package that is explainable to mormons and keeps them in their nice cozy ‘church is true’ moods. This is shown when minor spelling errors are emphasized rather than actual argument points. as many LDS have said, “I’ve been in this for too long for it not to be true”. many ex-mos have said similar to the converse. this does not mean we are the same. because, we ex-mos have had two points of view. believing & post-believing. LDS only have 1 point of view, strictly enforced by diety.

    the many strange things i had to bear during mormondom were compartmentalized until i became exmo, where i could then understand why i could never go back.

    example: the statement: “god screwed this all up”. we already know god’s plan is perfect, so this is in the trash bin before we even consider it.

    “evidence”: In D&C 19. particularly verses 6,7. the scriptures say eternal damnation & then this clarifies saying there is no eternal hell.

    Points: 1. if i have a dad in heaven, i don’t want him to send us to earth if theres a chance of me or any of my friends going to an eternal hell. That is why i think “god is screwed up”.

    counter-point: instead of addressing the issue that some will go into everlasting pain because of a “loving” god, various jumps and loops are done delving into various doctrinal points.

    Point 2. God just lied in scripture. first he says there’s eternal damnation, then he says that was just a joke to make us work harder. That’s called: Deception.

    counterpoint2.
    but of course, this impossible. god can’t lie. so let’s jump around in circles around the problem until its time for church to get out. the church obviously, is still true next week.

    This is obviously too long for any “non-questioning” mormon to read and understand, because if you were looking for an objective view point you’d be trying to understand the argument instead of figuring out what your response will be. or you would already be ex-mo.

    Most likely, you will ignore this. or jump circles around the points. i’m hoping you just ignore it. I already know it can’t have any impact on apologists. I’m just having fun typing for some reason.

  69. Michael Paul Bailey

    I am an ex-mormon who has left the church for intellectual reasons. To answer the question put forth in the original post, as to whether I would come back to the faith if evidence were provided in the affirmative, I can strongly say that I would.

    Let’s say that DNA evidence were to appear that strongly supported the Book of Mormon. That in and of itself would not be sufficient to bring me back to the fold. DNA is not the only problem with the Mormon church. Though, it would definitely give me pause. Granted, if DNA supported the Book of Mormon and we started finding strong archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon and other evidences started appearing, then I would eventually be persuaded to believe again.

    I left the church very reluctantly. It’s sad that apologists so rarely understand how difficult this process is. I have lost friends and alienated loved ones as a result. If there was anyway that I could be honest with myself and still believe in the church, you can be sure I would.

  70. dds

    I have also left the church for intellectual reasons. If archeological evidence surfaced tomorrow that proved the BOM was at least a historical record of of people that existed it would not bring me back.

    We already as much evidence about the Bible and it doesn’t make me want to start attending any Christian churches. The atonement isn’t going to start making sense on any rational level just because we dig up a chariot in Guatemala or something.

    It’s kind of like asking me what I would do if we discovered evidence that Santa lives at the North Pole.

  71. Seth R.

    I actually acknowledge that people leave for good reasons and that it’s not easy to do. I came close to unbelief myself for a time. I don’t like how ex-Mormons are always dismissed as having committed some sexual sin, or waved away with accusations that they didn’t read their scriptures enough, or whatever else.

    But I also hate dumb argument and I hate overblown angry rhetoric. The ex-Mormon community has plenty of this floating around.

    So does the faithful LDS community, and I dislike it equally, no matter which group of people I encounter it in.

    flattop’s rhetoric about “murderous facists” was hysterical and completely out of proportion.

    I would have attacked it, no matter which “side” it was advancing.

    It has nothing to do with defending the Church or not. It just calling out a stupid argument.

  72. dds

    Well I don’t really know anything about any murder allegations towards the church. Yet I do think they create a culture of real spiritual violence.

    For example, my aunt recently left the church after nearly 60 years of active membership. She was immediately and almost completely ostracized by her children.

    Two of her children told her specifically that she is never allowed to be alone with any of their children, as if she were a pedophile or something. This is violence, and it only goes on because her children have been raised to believe that their mother is now somehow evil or possessed with the spirit of the devil.

    It is saddening to see that an organization has its hooks so deep into its members that they will tirelessly defend the character of people they don’t even know, like JS and BY, yet will turn so quickly and viciously on the woman who gave them life.

  73. Seth R.

    I don’t deny that this sort of thing goes on in the LDS Church.

    But I would point out it probably happens when someone goes Democrat in a highly Republican family, and vice versa. Or when someone leaves Catholicism in a Catholic family. Or when someone expresses views against homosexuality in a highly liberal family.

    Ostracism is just a part of family in ANY ideological context.

  74. dds

    “Ostracism is just a part of family in ANY ideological context.”

    The difference is that the democratic party doesn’t claim to be all about family. Isn’t it a little different when your church claims to feel so strongly about the sanctity of family that they need to make a proclamation to the world about it? Yet, the teachings of the church contain countless triggers which effectively divide the family.

    Even the temple, in its promise to unite families forever really only divides the so-called worthy family members from the ‘unworthy’ ones at a time that should be unifying to a family, a wedding.

    As an atheist, I still have a loving relationship with the religious members of my family. It is no secret or shame for them to believe as they do or me likewise. Ostracism is almost always about fear, not love.

  75. Mike Ash

    Flatop, you write: “He did not ask because he did not want to know: his findings would not have supported his foregone conclusions. That is pretty lame scholarship on Mr. Ash’s part.” That’s an interesting comment from someone who said (when you apparently thought you were simply speaking to the choir): “Even if there was evidence for EVERYTHING, I would not. I am logic and science oriented, but there is another whole dimension of this that you are not presenting: Mor[m]onism is a murderous fascist cult. What amount of “factual evidence” can possibly justify that?”

    So I’m listening; explain to me how you would reject “evidence for EVERYTHING” because such evidence can not, apparently in your view, be “justif[ied]” with your view of Mormonism as a “murderous fascist cult.” Explain to me how this implies your open-mindedness.

  76. Mike Ash

    LDS921, says:

    “yes yes, we must explain the “apostates”. When we view them we have to look for some pattern to describe their behavior….”

    Ironic how ex-Mormons typically describe “believers” as engaging in circular logic, ignoring the facts in favor of feelings, etc. It almost seems that ex-Mormons are “look[ing] for some pattern to describe their behavior…”

    “There is no good reason for leaving the church especially when you said you knew it was true.”

    It’s obvious that you haven’t read Shaken Faith Syndrome.

    “As stated by many here, leaving based on emotional or evidences is preposterous. You will notice that all ex-Mormons have left because of emotional or evidential circumstances.”

    See comment preceding yours.

    “man, i would be a wonderful LDS apologist. too bad i’m too wrapped up in my circular logic to see through to the truth.
    now, as you may have guessed, i’m not lds. now also, your filter has come to see me as an ex-mo, and therefore anything i say is put in a certain compartment in your brain: the trash bin.”

    You’re not, by chance, trying to find a “pattern” in the behavior of LDS apologsits, are you?

    “It seems that you want to understand the ‘apostate’, while actually all you want to do is wrap them in one nice neat package that is explainable to mormons and keeps them in their nice cozy ‘church is true’ moods.”

    “Kettle” meet “Black.” Ironically enough, this was one of the major points of my original blog post.

    “This is shown when minor spelling errors are emphasized rather than actual argument points.”

    Evidence here would certainly improve the strength of your assertion.

    “the many strange things i had to bear during mormondom were compartmentalized until i became exmo, where i could then understand why i could never go back.”

    Thank goodness you have an open mind. You would “never go back”? Really, even if the evidence strongly favored Mormonism? It must be nice to finally be free of the limited Mormon mind that compartmentalizes people into one category and looks for patterns in their behavior.

    “Most likely, you will ignore this. or jump circles around the points.”

    Most likely. Since I’m incapable of thinking in any form other than ciruclar logic and since only Mormons compartmentalize others and look for patterns in their behavior, what else could you expect of me?

    “i’m hoping you just ignore it.”

    That’s an interesting remark.

    “I already know it can’t have any impact on apologists.”

    Of course not. Apologists, unlike real human beings (i.e., ex-Mormons) only engage in circular thoughts and lump people into behavioral groups.

  77. Mike Ash

    Michael Paul Bailey Says:

    “I am an ex-mormon who has left the church for intellectual reasons. To answer the question put forth in the original post, as to whether I would come back to the faith if evidence were provided in the affirmative, I can strongly say that I would.”

    I’m glad to hear this.

    “Let’s say that DNA evidence were to appear that strongly supported the Book of Mormon. That in and of itself would not be sufficient to bring me back to the fold. DNA is not the only problem with the Mormon church. Though, it would definitely give me pause.”

    Again, I’m glad to hear this. I don’t think that there is a silver bullet for either side of the issue (see Shaken Faith Syndrome), but while I see the preponderance of evidence weighing in favor of belief, I can appreciate that not everyone will agree with this assesment.

    “Granted, if DNA supported the Book of Mormon and we started finding strong archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon and other evidences started appearing, then I would eventually be persuaded to believe again.”

    Glad to hear as well.

    “I left the church very reluctantly. It’s sad that apologists so rarely understand how difficult this process is. I have lost friends and alienated loved ones as a result. If there was anyway that I could be honest with myself and still believe in the church, you can be sure I would.”

    I don’t know how “rare” this is. Many/most of us have family and friends who are also outside the Church. I can appreciate the very real disturbing feelings you probably encountered in your decision to leave; and I don’t doubt that it wasn’t an easy choice. Not to keep plugging my book, but it really does deal with this topic at length.

    I have no qualms with those who decide to leave or to those who reject my beliefs. I have a problem, however, with those who claim that Mormons (and more typically LDS apologists) are brain-dead hacks who ignore reality and cling to fantasy because they are either too dumb, dishonest with themselves, or simply hang on to feelings over evidence. I especially have a problem with those who make such accusations and then turn around and proudly proclaim that they would never return even if the evidence in favor of Mormonism was overwhelming.

  78. Mike Ash

    dds Says:

    “I have also left the church for intellectual reasons. If archeological evidence surfaced tomorrow that proved the BOM was at least a historical record of of people that existed it would not bring me back.”

    Then I must ask this question. If you left for purely “intellectual reasons” what “intellectual” evidence could bring you back? I sincerely find your position fascinating. If archaeological evidence (your words) “surfaced tomorrow that proved the BoM was at least an historical record of people that existed” wouldn’t that say something about the person who restored/translated the record?

    I’m not doubting you; I’m actually not surprised by your answer– belief can not be compelled or forced. I nevertheless find it interesting and ironic that apparently no “intellectual” evidence could convince you, yet you left for “intellecutal reasons.”

    “We already as much evidence about the Bible and it doesn’t make me want to start attending any Christian churches. The atonement isn’t going to start making sense on any rational level just because we dig up a chariot in Guatemala or something.”

    True, but finding evidence that “proved” (your words) the BoM certainly supports the prophetic call of Joseph Smith. Recognizing that real Israelites, cananites, etc. lived in the Old World doesn’t tell us anything about the scriptural veracity of the Bible.

    “It’s kind of like asking me what I would do if we discovered evidence that Santa lives at the North Pole.”

    And if evidence “proved” that Santa not only lived at the North Pole but had elves making toys and flying reindeer– you would still reject a belief in Santa?

  79. Seth R.

    “The difference is that the democratic party doesn’t claim to be all about family.”

    Obviously you haven’t been paying much attention to party rhetoric as of late.

  80. Cowboy

    Sorry to interject here, I have been following this conversation for a while and am dissapointed with the overall tone. If the point of this blog is to prove that the irrational attacks from Mormon critics are just as bad as the irrational defenses from Mormon apologists, then okay point taken – but so what! I haven’t read “Shaken Faith Syndrome”, and frankly haven’t been given good reason to here, but what would have been helpful in this discussion is to engage in a broad analysis of the many different reasons people leave the Church. For productive use amongst Mormons, it would then be helpful to show how to deal with each of these challenges and demonstrate what social pitfalls should be avoided. I have not studied this issue out in great detail, but several categories of hypothesis would be:

    1) Intellectual Dissafection
    A) Scriptural/Doctrinal/Religious
    B) Church History
    C) Philosophy
    D) Science
    E) Authority
    F) Esoteric & Secretive

    2) Conformity – Inability to adapt to Mormon cultural norms
    A) The Convert
    B) The life long member
    C) Social networks within/Outside the Church
    D) Unworthiness
    E) Social conflicts “being offended”
    F) Regional socio-economic and socio-cultural

    I realize there may be some overlap in those topics, and is by no means comprehensive. It would also be helpful to break issues up into two or three categories of people:

    1) Born in the Covenant/Life long member
    A) Always or mostly active
    B) Less active/reactivated

    2) Convert
    A) Recent Converts
    B) Long time converts

    3) Concentrations of Mormon influence
    A) Those who live in regions of high mormon Concentration (Utah, Idaho, California, Arizona), vs those who don’t.
    B) Concentration of Mormon influence within family (pioneer ancestry, The Bishops kid/spouse, the only member of the Church in the family).

    This data could be usefully assembled into a survey, which would then be submitted to the RFM board – and then insightful dialog could ensue between the RFM folks and and the FAIR group. The RFM boards are just a place where anybody who’s hacked off with Mormonism can go to sound off. FAIR attempts to be a bit more scholarly, therefore FAIR holds the cards for initiating a reasonable intellectual discussion with the RFM commenters. Given that, the RFM comments should not be held to scholarly standards, nor should they serve to reflect the full dynamic of each persons tranistion, thoughts, justifications, etc, for leaving Mormonism.

  81. dds

    Mike,

    I haven’t said that no intellectual evidence could bring me back. My point is that if suddenly there existed evidence for one part of the story I wouldn’t immediately embrace the whole.

    If we found out there was a guy named S.Claus at the north pole wouldn’t you still need quite a bit more evidence to conclude he was all the story books made him out to be?

    Likewise, if it were proven that the BOM was a historical record it wouldn’t cause me to draw any conclusions about JS. Especially when the church has been so deceptive about the supposed translation in the first place.

    I consistently see that the church will lie or conceal unsavory details to make their story more palatable, which makes me trust them even less.

    Your basic assumption is that people must really leave for emotional reasons despite their own claims to the contrary. I can tell you in my case this simply isn’t true. I have studied the matter as intellectually as I know how. I simply do not find it believable.

    If there was irrefutable evidence to prove that the church was what it claims to be woudn’t that invalidate faith and in turn the whole philosophical basis of the church?

  82. LDS921

    for the heck of it.

    if i was provided evidence that the church was true:i would join reluctantly in order to avoid hellfire. i stated why in my previous post in the doctrinal points which you did not address. But you seem to address line by line everything else lol.

    “It’s kind of like asking me what I would do if we discovered evidence that Santa lives at the North Pole.”
    ^^

    We are not the same sorry. Texas barn shooting and reasonable doubts are not the same.

    Now please analyze this line by line and tell me why i’m doing the exact same thing as you.

  83. Jordan

    It is amazing how brainwashed people can get that they completely ignore very well-proven facts, especially when the facts have been confirmed by ex-BYU professors. some people out there behind the curtains are getting very rich from church tithing. When you pay tithing, you are “blessed”, while the big wigs of the corporation are “blessed” with a new shopping mall to buy or new TV station like KSL channel 5(true by the way)

  84. Jordan

    oh, and by the way, 2+2=5. Don’t go by factual evidence to find out if this equation is true, just listen to the spirit. How can anyone say that you should go by your feelings rather than proven facts.
    When I was little I had a testimony of Santa Clause and I had a good feeling that he was true.

  85. Mike Ash

    Cowboy says: “Sorry to interject here, I have been following this conversation for a while and am dissapointed with the overall tone. If the point of this blog is to prove that the irrational attacks from Mormon critics are just as bad as the irrational defenses from Mormon apologists, then okay point taken – but so what!”

    While the rest of your list would certainly make for an interesting discussion, it is still a seperate issue from the point of this blog post. If you go back to the beginning, you’ll see that the point of this blog post was to show that while some critics claim that Mormons deny evidence in favor of feelings, we find that some of those very same critics actually deny evidence in favor of feelings. Nothing more, nothing less.

  86. Mike Ash

    dds says: “I haven’t said that no intellectual evidence could bring me back. My point is that if suddenly there existed evidence for one part of the story I wouldn’t immediately embrace the whole.”

    I wouldn’t expect you to. Of course some parts carry much more weight than other parts. What if there was “proof” that Joseph actually had a visitation from God and Christ, or a visitation from the angel Moroni. Don’t you think that “proof” for those parts of the story would have a better chance of convincing you to embrace the whole?

    “…if it were proven that the BOM was a historical record it wouldn’t cause me to draw any conclusions about JS.”

    I find this interesting but not completely surprising. If it were “proven” that he BoM was an historical record, I’m sure that other theories can be formulated to account for it’s existence, but all such theories would be simple creations designed to come up with anything other than the story claimed by JS (and I strongly suspect that any competing theory would heavily rely on ad hoc rationalizations). The purpose of creating an alternate theory for a JS translating a real historical record is simply to avoid the acceptance of JS as a prophet. Your comment below is evidence of this thought process.

    “Especially when the church has been so deceptive about the supposed translation in the first place. I consistently see that the church will lie or conceal unsavory details to make their story more palatable, which makes me trust them even less.”

    So, because you preceive the church as “deceptive” it gives you rationalization or a peg upon which to hang your unbelief– even, as you note above, if it were proven that the BoM was an historical record?

    My parents have lied to me about many things, so even if we had proof that Santa rode a flying sleigh pulled by reindeer, I would reject it because my parents are known liars.

    “Your basic assumption is that people must really leave for emotional reasons despite their own claims to the contrary. I can tell you in my case this simply isn’t true. I have studied the matter as intellectually as I know how. I simply do not find it believable.”

    My basic assumption is that _all_ people rely on more than intellecutal reasoning in making many of life’s important choices (and if you ever read SFS, you’ll see that science sides with me). Your claim that you are the lone exception to this phenomenon is interesting in light of your other statements in this thread. The reason you offer for rejecting the BoM– should proof be found that it is an actual historical record– is because you don’t trust the Church because of what you preceive as past lies. Sorry, but such a position is most certainly not based solely on intellectual reasoning.

    “If there was irrefutable evidence to prove that the church was what it claims to be woudn’t that invalidate faith and in turn the whole philosophical basis of the church?”

    Yes. Agreed, and that’s why I don’t think such “proof” will ever be found. I believe that there are strong indicators– evidences that favor belief– but faith will still play a major role and each person can weigh the strength of competing evidences for themselves.

    BTW, despite the repeated claims on RFM, I’m not the one who posed the question to the RFM list, I simply observed the answers from those who posted responses to someone else’s query.

  87. Mike Ash

    LDS921 Says:

    “if i was provided evidence that the church was true:i would join reluctantly in order to avoid hellfire.”

    If you think that joining reluctantly squares with LDS beliefs, I think you need to study a bit more.

    “i stated why in my previous post in the doctrinal points which you did not address. But you seem to address line by line everything else lol.”

    I did not address them because they were/are irrelevant to the topic of this thread, lol. If you want to start a blog– one that is not so heavily censored so competing opinions are deleted (like RFM) then I’m sure you’ll have many people jumping in to respond. This thread is not the place to discuss what issues favor for or against Mormonism– now matter how interestings such things tend to be– this thread is to show that some critics, who claim that Mormons reject evidence in favor of feelings, are actually (and ironically) guilty of doing this very thing themselves.

  88. Mike Ash

    Jordan,

    Try to stay on topic. Making wild assertions that have nothing to contribute to the topic of this blog thread just makes you look silly.

  89. Cowboy

    Mike:

    I understand your argument that critics antipathy towards the Church are as equally emotionally driven as the believers. I even agree that the critics have no higher intellectual ground as a basis for their positions. I think at least until the Church opens the vaults and makes the entire records available on the web, we have the record as good as it is going to get. Even if the Church were to open the vaults, there is no certainty that a “smoking gun” would be found in either favor or opposition to LDS religious claims. So again, I am content that the facts are available as good as they will ever be. Nothing exists which wholly proves or disproves Joseph Smiths alleged call as a Prophet, or the general premise of the Church. What is left is Pathos, ie, how do we feel about the evidence and what conclusions are we willing to draw therefrom.

    This is just a long way of me saying, I think I get it and I agree. I am still left with, so what! Particularly because in order to make your case you have resorted to the Recovery from Mormonism boards, which I agree are loaded with irrational heat of the moment “anti-Mormon” vents. Therein lies my complaint. I think someone here has referred to the RFM boards as a place where angry like-minded invividuals commiserate. I think that is an adequate description of my experiences having read many of the posts there. Some are thoughtful and articulate expressions of personal experiences transitioning from Mormonism. The vast majority however are ridiculous ad homenem slander offered in the company of similar thinking people. Naturally this type of behavior is not prohibited on the website, therefore it is encouraged. Because of this I do not think the RFM boards are at all instructive as an overall explanation for a persons experience with leaving Mormonism. If anything, it just demonstrates their feelings of/against Mormonism at the time of writing, nothing else.

    My complaint is that the RFM comments were made in an atmosphere of generally unintellectual anger. Even RFM will tell you their purpose is the assist in the “recovery” from Mormonism, and not to be an academic venue for intellectual criticism. So you chose an outspoken emotionally volatile group and pointed out, “hey look your just being emotional”, as defense to the criticism of the correlation in LDS theology between emotion and the revelatory process. My hypothesis is that many of the commenters (not all, possibly not even most) could provide an intellectually cogent rationale for their departure, where they given fair warning that their experience was about to be scrutinized for the purposes of a book and a blog such as this.

  90. Seth R.

    I think RfM is more of a group therapy session than a real place of substantive discussion or debate.

    Which is fine, if you need that sort of thing I guess.

  91. Cowboy

    Seth:

    Which is exactly why the comments posted there should not be accepted as a complete explanation for why, presumably rational people, leave the Church and then exhibit an irrational (emotional) vent about it on a website.

  92. dds

    “I wouldn’t expect you to. Of course some parts carry much more weight than other parts. What if there was “proof” that Joseph actually had a visitation from God and Christ, or a visitation from the angel Moroni. Don’t you think that “proof” for those parts of the story would have a better chance of convincing you to embrace the whole?”

    We are just running in circles with this now. I would address any new evidence scientifically and objectively as possible.

    “I find this interesting but not completely surprising. If it were “proven” that he BoM was an historical record, I’m sure that other theories can be formulated to account for it’s existence, but all such theories would be simple creations designed to come up with anything other than the story claimed by JS (and I strongly suspect that any competing theory would heavily rely on ad hoc rationalizations). The purpose of creating an alternate theory for a JS translating a real historical record is simply to avoid the acceptance of JS as a prophet. Your comment below is evidence of this thought process.”

    The church has been deceptive about the translation story. I grew up in the church, attended seminary throughout HS and served a faithful mission. Never was I once ever told about a rock in a hat. The result of discovering the church’s deception is distrust. Distrust isn’t necessarily an emotional thing, is it? I don’t have to be angry that I was lied to, I just consider an organization who has lied repeatedly in the past (even given sermons about when its ok to lie for the Lord) likely to do so still.

    “So, because you preceive the church as “deceptive” it gives you rationalization or a peg upon which to hang your unbelief– even, as you note above, if it were proven that the BoM was an historical record?”

    It is logical to be skeptical of an organization that has a history of lying about its history. Proven by whom? It’s one thing if an unbiased university study brought this information forward and it was accepted by the scientific community at large. It is entirely different if the only ‘proof’ is theories put forth in a professional apologists book. That isn’t to say your ideas couldn’t be true. I would however, wait until your evidence was reviewed by unbiased experts in the respective fields of study before I spent any real time examining your claims.

    “My parents have lied to me about many things, so even if we had proof that Santa rode a flying sleigh pulled by reindeer, I would reject it because my parents are known liars.”

    You are putting words in my mouth. I have never said I would reject evidence outright. But I would be skeptical and rightfully so. Wouldn’t you be skeptical if your parents called you tomorrow and told you they had new evidence of the reality of Santa Claus? Would not your skepticism be rational rather than emotional? Would you even want to waste your time with this story? And if so, would you want to waste your time with all the other fantastic myths out there with supposed evidence to back them up?

    “Your basic assumption is that people must really leave for emotional reasons despite their own claims to the contrary. I can tell you in my case this simply isn’t true. I have studied the matter as intellectually as I know how. I simply do not find it believable.”

    “My basic assumption is that _all_ people rely on more than intellecutal reasoning in making many of life’s important choices (and if you ever read SFS, you’ll see that science sides with me). Your claim that you are the lone exception to this phenomenon is interesting in light of your other statements in this thread. The reason you offer for rejecting the BoM– should proof be found that it is an actual historical record– is because you don’t trust the Church because of what you preceive as past lies. Sorry, but such a position is most certainly not based solely on intellectual reasoning.”

    I don’t claim to be a robot, no. I think you are making a straw man argument here. Exmormons aren’t faulting the LDS for not being 100 percent objective, we are faulting the notion that how we feel about something should have greater weight than actual evidence. Let’s not forget that the emotional advantage was originally very strongly in favor of the church. I deeply wanted to believe the church and wanted it to be true, the evidence was just too overwhelming against it. So, no, my personality hasn’t fundamentally changed, if the evidence was there, I would carefully review and accept, one claim at a time.

    “Yes. Agreed, and that’s why I don’t think such “proof” will ever be found. I believe that there are strong indicators– evidences that favor belief– but faith will still play a major role and each person can weigh the strength of competing evidences for themselves.”

    Constructing the basis for a logical argument based on science and then filling in the gaps with an appeal to the supernatural is logical fallacy. If mormonism is true, prove it. If Mormonism can’t or won’t be proven true then the point is moot.

  93. Mike Ash

    Cowboy Says:
    “Which is exactly why the comments posted there should not be accepted as a complete explanation for why, presumably rational people, leave the Church and then exhibit an irrational (emotional) vent about it on a website.”

    It was never claimed that the comments here exhibit a “complete explanation” why people leave the Church. The fact is that people make important decisions based on rational and irrational (extra-rational) information.

  94. Mike Ash

    dds Says:
    “We are just running in circles with this now. I would address any new evidence scientifically and objectively as possible.”

    I hope you are right. You’re earlier comments, however, do not imply such objectivity.

    “The church has been deceptive about the translation story.”

    I disagree, but this is a topic for another time.

    “I grew up in the church, attended seminary throughout HS and served a faithful mission. Never was I once ever told about a rock in a hat.”

    I grew up in the church, attended seminary, etc. I learned of the rock in a hat over 2 decades ago. It’s even talked about in the Ensign. Quite a cover-up, that.

    “It is logical to be skeptical of an organization that has a history of lying about its history.”

    While this certainly can be a valid reason for being skeptical, it should be weighed against other factors. And again, for the record, I disagree with your claim that the Church typically lies about its history.

    “Proven by whom? It’s one thing if an unbiased university study brought this information forward and it was accepted by the scientific community at large. It is entirely different if the only ‘proof’ is theories put forth in a professional apologists book.”

    Your words: “Likewise, if it were proven that the BOM was a historical record it wouldn’t cause me to draw any conclusions about JS. Especially when the church has been so deceptive about the supposed translation in the first place.”

    I infer from your earlier comment that in this hypothetical scenario, the BOM would be “proven” to your intellectual satisfaction. If not, why would you even state it or why would it not cause you to drawn conclusions about JS?

    “You are putting words in my mouth. I have never said I would reject evidence outright. But I would be skeptical and rightfully so.”

    Your words: “Likewise, if it were proven that the BOM was a historical record it wouldn’t cause me to draw any conclusions about JS. Especially when the church has been so deceptive about the supposed translation in the first place.”

    In your earlier statement, it is implied that if the BoM was “proven” to be true (which means that YOU would– in this hypothetial scenario– accept it as a proven historical record) you would still not draw conclusions about JS because of your distaste for what you see as lies from the Church. So despite the fact that the BoM was “proven” you would “reject evidence outright” for JS’s prophetic abilities because of your preceived problems with other truths about Church history.

    “I don’t claim to be a robot, no. I think you are making a straw man argument here. Exmormons aren’t faulting the LDS for not being 100 percent objective, we are faulting the notion that how we feel about something should have greater weight than actual evidence.”

    Your words: “Likewise, if it were proven that the BOM was a historical record it wouldn’t cause me to draw any conclusions about JS. Especially when the church has been so deceptive about the supposed translation in the first place.”

    How you “feel about” the Church (because of your preception that they’ve lied about their history) would “have greater weight than actual evidence” (proven!) that the BoM was an actual historical record.

    “Let’s not forget that the emotional advantage was originally very strongly in favor of the church. I deeply wanted to believe the church and wanted it to be true, the evidence was just too overwhelming against it. So, no, my personality hasn’t fundamentally changed, if the evidence was there, I would carefully review and accept, one claim at a time.”

    But such a position doesn’t square with your other statement.

  95. Mike Ash

    Cowboy says:
    “My complaint is that the RFM comments were made in an atmosphere of generally unintellectual anger. Even RFM will tell you their purpose is the assist in the “recovery” from Mormonism, and not to be an academic venue for intellectual criticism. So you chose an outspoken emotionally volatile group and pointed out, “hey look your just being emotional”, as defense to the criticism of the correlation in LDS theology between emotion and the revelatory process. My hypothesis is that many of the commenters (not all, possibly not even most) could provide an intellectually cogent rationale for their departure, where they given fair warning that their experience was about to be scrutinized for the purposes of a book and a blog such as this.”

    And yet we see dds continuing to make this same ironic arguement on this thread.

    After dealing with borderlanders and ex-Mormons for many years, I’m convinced that “some” (and I’ve never said or implied “all”) critics actually think this way. They proudly claim that they would reject God, reject Mormonism, and reject all evidences in favor of Mormonism, for emotional reasons (while they often deride believing Mormons for accepting Mormonism for emotional reasons).

    And for the record, I don’t think that believers or critics can make such decisions based on strictly intellectual factors. There is no evidence– for or against Mormonism– that automatically compells a rational person to accept or reject Mormonism. Other factors (including emotions) are always involved.

    It’s the hypocrisy of some ex-Mormons that was the topic of this thread.

  96. Cowboy

    (while they often deride believing Mormons for accepting Mormonism for emotional reasons).

    Mike:

    I have agreed with your position that some exmormons base their decision on emotions. I just don’t see this as a relevant response. You acknowledge that there is no evidence for or against Mormons, so your claim that critics dismiss “evidence”, which doesn’t exist by the way (see beginning of sentence), out of an emotional motive is subjective. The emotional railings of the RFM commenters do little to impact the Church, and only represent the way RFM folks feel about the Church, not what their rational objections were. Yes, some only think with their gut, but I would expect for them to be on the fringe.

    As for the comparison between the LDS emotional thinking, and the RFM emotional thinking, the two are completely seperate – so this is a false comparison anyway. In LDS thinking the emotions are the modus operandi of the Holy Ghost, and quite literally some believe that these feelings can be a barometer for gaging truth. In other words we will say based on feelings or sensations that we know absolute truth. Whereas with the emotional RFM commenters, yes they are motivated by emotion, they do not cling to those emotions as a manifestation of the divine.

  97. dds

    “How you “feel about” the Church (because of your preception that they’ve lied about their history) would “have greater weight than actual evidence” (proven!) that the BoM was an actual historical record.”

    You seem a little desperate here to attribute emotion where there is none. That is quite a patch work job there. Lack of trust doesn’t have to be an emotional thing. Are you angry with your parents for lying about Santa Claus? Were you ever? Given the churches history of lying, it simply more difficult to believe them. Even without such a history can they be considered an unbiased, reliable source? Can you?

    I would not accept JS on the sole basis of historical evidence for the BOM simply because it would be illogical to do so. The premise simply does not justify the conclusion.

    Are you really asserting that if A) The BOM is a historical record then not only B) there is a God but also C) JS was a “prophet” of that God and that D) The current largest congregation of Mormons is the only true and living church on the face of the earth? aaand E) because its the only true and living church on the face of the earth, dds should go back or he cannot be saved/exalted.

    One step at a time, amigo.

  98. Seth R.

    I didn’t learn about the “rock in a hat” thing until well after my undergraduate degree in college. Probably due in part to the fact that I wasn’t really paying attention.

    But when I did learn about it, I didn’t really care.

    It was kinda like – “So what? Let’s see what’s on TV.”

    Like if I’d suddenly learned that Joseph liked to wear funny striped pantaloons rather than the suit and waistcoat faithful Mormon art always portrays him wearing. It’s possibly slightly divergent from my preconceptions. But hardly anything earth-shattering.

  99. Mike Ash

    Cowboy Says:

    “You acknowledge that there is no evidence for or against Mormons, so your claim that critics dismiss “evidence”, which doesn’t exist by the way (see beginning of sentence), out of an emotional motive is subjective.”

    You’ve misunderstood me. I believe that there is plenty of evidence for Mormonism. I believe that the abundance of evidence favors Mormonism. I don’t believe that evidence “compells belief” — see my earlier post. I also understand that the acceptance/rejection of evidence is subjective.

    “The emotional railings of the RFM commenters do little to impact the Church,”

    Agreed.

    “…and only represent the way RFM folks feel about the Church, not what their rational objections were. Yes, some only think with their gut, but I would expect for them to be on the fringe.”

    I don’t doubt that some (most) feel that they have valid intellectual reasons for leaving the Church. My gripe is that they typically (and I hear this all the time– not just from RFMers) think that _they_ are the ones who rely solely on intellectual evidence and do not involve any emotions (or other factors) in their decision making. They then claim that Mormons are the exact opposite.

    “As for the comparison between the LDS emotional thinking, and the RFM emotional thinking, the two are completely seperate – so this is a false comparison anyway. In LDS thinking the emotions are the modus operandi of the Holy Ghost, and quite literally some believe that these feelings can be a barometer for gaging truth. In other words we will say based on feelings or sensations that we know absolute truth. Whereas with the emotional RFM commenters, yes they are motivated by emotion, they do not cling to those emotions as a manifestation of the divine.”

    While I agree that RFMers don’t see their feelings as a “manisfestation of the divine” I’m convinced that their emotions play a role in their “gaging truth”– it’s a fact that we all do this. The earliest quotes in the post succintly demonstrate that fact. I don’t fault them for utlizing emotions to discount pro-LDS evidence. What I find troubling is that many ex-Mormons and critics claim that they are above this. That they can make emotionless, purely logic-driven decisions on matters of religion, while claiming that Mormons make purely emotion-driven decisions while disengaging their brains.

  100. Mike Ash

    dds Says:

    [Mike]“How you “feel about” the Church (because of your preception that they’ve lied about their history) would “have greater weight than actual evidence” (proven!) that the BoM was an actual historical record.”

    [dds]”You seem a little desperate here to attribute emotion where there is none. That is quite a patch work job there. Lack of trust doesn’t have to be an emotional thing.”

    If you had followed my earlier posts, “emotions” are part of the many extra-rational things that contribute to decision making. Do you believe that it’s possible to completely seperate emotions from religious concerns?

    “Are you angry with your parents for lying about Santa Claus? Were you ever? Given the churches history of lying, it simply more difficult to believe them.”

    Did your parents lie to you about Santa? Do you distrust every thing they tell you now? (And, BTW, for the record I don’t agree with your claim about the Church lying.)

    “Even without such a history can they be considered an unbiased, reliable source? Can you?”

    Can they (the Church?) be considered a reliable source? Yes. Can I? I hope so? Are they unbiased? Is there anyone who is?

    “I would not accept JS on the sole basis of historical evidence for the BOM simply because it would be illogical to do so. The premise simply does not justify the conclusion.”

    Which gets at the heart of the matter. Your conclusion– that JS can not be a prophet– drives your acceptance/rejection of evidence. This is done all the time, but it’s certainly not unbiased and completely logical.

    “Are you really asserting that if A) The BOM is a historical record then not only B) there is a God but also C) JS was a “prophet” of that God”

    As noted earlier, I can’t think of another scenario that doesn’t rely on ad hoc rationalizations that would come to a different conclusion. If the BoM is an historical record than, A) Christ visted the New World– hence he is the Savior and God exists; B) There were prophets in the New World who wrote a record for the Latter-days to be translated by a modern-day prophet; C) JS was a prophet who translated that record.

    “and that D) The current largest congregation of Mormons is the only true and living church on the face of the earth?”

    This would be the biggest question. But since the Congregation of Christ (formerly RLDS) rejects the BoM as historical, it logically makes sense that the Mormon Church still carries the torch.

    “aaand E) because its the only true and living church on the face of the earth, dds should go back or he cannot be saved/exalted.”

    If the LDS faith is true, then yes, I would hope that you’d feel the desire to return.

    “One step at a time, amigo.”

    Well, dds, how about taking that first step. 🙂

  101. Cowboy

    Mike:

    If I understand you correctly then, your point is that some critics of the Church are hypocrites because they dismiss emotional reasoning from followers of the LDS faith, while demonstrating a high level of pathos oriented rhetoric in their criticism of the Church. A couple of points worth considering

    1) Relevance: Let’s say we agree, now what? I assume you are not suggesting that fickle emotions could be the only basis for opposing the Mormon Church. There exists plenty of “evidence”, and I would argue much to caliber of your alleged “evidence” in favor of LDS claims, which is rational and provides logical support to the skeptical perspective. The fact that critics invest some emotion into their conclusions does not alltogether dismiss these logical criticisms.

    2) Emotion vs. Revelation: I still think this is a false comparison. In my experience the complaint that Church critics make regarding LDS “emotion” is that in some cases we are encouraged to interpret our feelings as a “witness” of the Holy Ghost, particularly in confirming truth claims surrounding Joseph Smith, the First Vision, or The Book of Mormon. I believe this explanation comes out of a false reading of Galations 5, particularly since this scripture was used in the former missionary discussions as “evidence” for alleged symbiant Holy Ghost/emotional experience relationship that skeptics are apt criticize. While it is true that each human utilizes either some high or low level of emotion in conjunction with ethos and logos for their decision making, in the Church we are often told that we can be certain that our emotions are not of ourselves, but of God. The critics will then argue that is why the Church is so agressive in their production of media which can fabricate a natural emotional response, in order to sell their religion. The critics are claiming to at least recognize the bias of emotion, and understand the need to bridle that emotion with the other two elements. Some however, are still not able to manage this. This is not too suggest however that all LDS are irrational/illogical emotional drones. There are plenty of Mormons who think with more than just their gut, but from a marketing perspective, that is at least how the Church sells it. So to suggest that the emotional rants of RFM’er are akin to the LDS “feeling the spirit”, does not quite work. I agree with your observation that many LDS critics will claim to be certain in their evaluation, whereupon presenting their case the argument is less than compelling. I would not relegate this phenomenon to the critics though, but to untrained, “would be” scholarship.

    3) Overgeneralization: Whether or not this was your attempt, it has seemed to be the effect. That is why I suggested the list in my first comment. It would helpful in making the criticisms you have, to know exactly how representative the emotional criticism is to the entire equation of LDS dissaffection. I am not suggesting that you espouse this line of thinking, but there is sometimes an attitude within the Church that people will usually only leave because they have in some way been offended. Elder Bednar gave a talk some few conferences back wich has been suggested to have furthered this fallacy. While offense, which is largely emotional, is certainly going to represent some fraction of the ex-mormon population, it is certainly not the whole, and likely not the majority. It has been said, and I tend to agree, people join religions for a number of highly diversified and personal reasons – why should we see the departure from religion any different.

  102. Mike Ash

    Cowboy Says:

    “If I understand you correctly then, your point is that some critics of the Church are hypocrites because they dismiss emotional reasoning from followers of the LDS faith, while demonstrating a high level of pathos oriented rhetoric in their criticism of the Church.”

    That’s basically the jist of it.

    “A couple of points worth considering

    “1) Relevance: Let’s say we agree, now what?”

    Some of my co-workers liked and saw the movie, 4 Christmases. I’ll bet you can find a blog about it somewhere. So what? Most of the thread on most message boards don’t hold my interest. So what? If you don’t find this thread interesting, then pass it by– don’t contribute.

    “I assume you are not suggesting that fickle emotions could be the only basis for opposing the Mormon Church. There exists plenty of “evidence”, and I would argue much to caliber of your alleged “evidence” in favor of LDS claims, which is rational and provides logical support to the skeptical perspective. The fact that critics invest some emotion into their conclusions does not alltogether dismiss these logical criticisms.”

    You’ve obviously not read my book. As I’ve repeated said in this thread, I believe that there is evidence both for and against Mormonism. I think the weight favors the “for” position. The point of this thread was to show something that I found interesting– some critics claim that Mormons reject rational evidence in favor of belief, while they proudly claim that they would reject rational evidence in favor of disbelief. I haven’t claimed that this is the norm. I find such claims, however, fascinating.

    “2) Emotion vs. Revelation: …The critics are claiming to at least recognize the bias of emotion, and understand the need to bridle that emotion with the other two elements.”

    But many (most?) educated Mormons also recognize the need for faith and reason (it’s even recommended in the scriptures). And from what I’ve seen, many critics do _not_ recognize the bias of emotion nor do they understand the need to their emotions.

    “Some however, are still not able to manage this. This is not too suggest however that all LDS are irrational/illogical emotional drones. There are plenty of Mormons who think with more than just their gut, but from a marketing perspective, that is at least how the Church sells it. So to suggest that the emotional rants of RFM’er are akin to the LDS “feeling the spirit”, does not quite work.”

    There is, of course, no perfect analogy– and once again, you’ve missed the point of the thread.

    “I agree with your observation that many LDS critics will claim to be certain in their evaluation, whereupon presenting their case the argument is less than compelling. I would not relegate this phenomenon to the critics though, but to untrained, “would be” scholarship.”

    I would agree with this final statement. This “untrained” perspective, manifests itself in some of the arguments made by critcs– I see it frequently. I’ve been corresponding for two days with just such a person in private email. If find this fascinating. I find it fasinating that many Mormons don’t make an effort to study more about their religion. Maybe someday I’ll blog about that.

    “3) Overgeneralization: Whether or not this was your attempt, it has seemed to be the effect.”

    It was neither my attempt, nor is it apparent that this is the effect.

    “…there is sometimes an attitude within the Church that people will usually only leave because they have in some way been offended.”

    You haven’t read my book.

  103. Cowboy

    No I haven’t read the book, I addressed that matter earlier. We clearly have a difference of opinion, and that is fine. I would just like to clarify a few points, and then I will leave you with the last word.

    “If you don’t find this thread interesting, then pass it by– don’t contribute.”

    This may be sound advice, and perhaps some that I should have initially followed. My complaint regarding relevance however had no bearing on whether the topic was interesting. Rather, I submit that it is highly subjective and offers little in the way of furthering the case for Mormonism, or exposing its critics. So even though a case can be made against the rationality behind some the RFM commenters, the “anti-Mormon” movement at large will remain unimpeded by exposing this tendency of it’s more obscure adherents. Perhaps that was never your intention and I am making a mountain out of a mole hill. I have followed FAIR for quite a while, and found it to be a good venue for discussing all thing’s LDS, and felt that this particular treatment regarding the behavior of “some” LDS critics was not up to par with the general topical precedent of this site.

    “There is, of course, no perfect analogy– and once again, you’ve missed the point of the thread.”

    I don’t think I’ve missed the point at all. There’s a clear distinction between emotion as interpreted by the LDS and how it relates to the revelatory process, and the emotional hysteria exhibited by a few disgruntled Mormon critics. I think we clearly disagree on how proportionate the irrational critics are to the sum, and perhaps that is why I object to the overall criticism.

  104. dds

    “As noted earlier, I can’t think of another scenario that doesn’t rely on ad hoc rationalizations that would come to a different conclusion. If the BoM is an historical record than, A) Christ visted the New World– hence he is the Savior and God exists; B) There were prophets in the New World who wrote a record for the Latter-days to be translated by a modern-day prophet; C) JS was a prophet who translated that record.”

    What’s the difference between an “ad hoc rationalization” and a legitamate alternate conclusion? (hint: your opinion) There is a difference between believing that there were actual civilizations and places and taking a 100 percent literal tack on the supposed events in the book.

    You aren’t really proposing that we could somehow ever have conclusive evidence that Christ rose from the grave, are you?

    Another example, there is ample archealogical evidence for the people, places and traditions of the bible, that doesn’t mean all Christians believe in talking donkeys.

    How do you propose to ‘prove’ the supernatural?

    Ultimately, I think you fail to understand the thought process that many who leave the church go through because it just isn’t something you have experienced.

    What do I have to gain by believing and following the ‘prohets’? Planets, eternal life with my family and loved ones, power, glory.. you name it. What do I get by being an atheist? annihilated. So do you really think I wouldn’t like to believe mormonism?

    I would also like to believe the guy who posts signs in my town that say I can fire my boss and make 20k-60k/mo. It is not a will to disbelieve or anger that causes me not to call his number, it’s just experience.

    “Well, dds, how about taking that first step.”

    I see no evidence to convince me to.

  105. Danny

    If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck,looks like a duck… Is there space to feel that the earth is square? Or that the grass is blue?

    We don´t leave you based on emotion, at least speaking for myself. The evidence would be overwhelming in any court of law. And if isn´t so why doesthe church try to hide facts from its members and prospective converts, while embelishing its own history?

    Forget about JS: imagine you have to evaluate an anonymous individual character, and that man has married minor girls, been arrested for tresure digging, has failed about 93,5% of his prophecies, cheated on his wife, practiced plural marriage even before he supposely received the revelation and the priesthood that allowed him to do so? Where would you stand as far as this man´s character is concerned?

    And yes, I felt emotions, cause I spent a major part ofmy life dedicated to a cause that is by any logical tennet a fraud. Because I was made believe in something and spen 2 years ofmy life deceiving people!

    “I find every sect, as far as reason will help them, make use of it gladly; and where it fails them, they cry out, It is a matter of faith, and above reason” (John Locke)

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