“Mormon Derangement Syndrome”

Posted on by

I suppose that the rescue of the US-flag ship Maersk Alabama is old news by now.  As we all know, President Obama ordered US Navy Seals to take out the pirates who attacked that undefended ship.  Like Jonah Goldberg, I praise the President for allowing the US Navy to take quick, effective action on those who would harm the defenceless. While I didn’t vote for President Obama [I DID, however, vote for Alan Keyes in the 2000 GOP Primary in my home State!], and I think that his economic policies will merely bring about what he tries to avert, it is only right to acknowledge his proper actions as they occur.

Moreover, I think that those who fault President Obama in this are merely applying a mirror image of the “Bush Derangement Syndrome.” Like the extreme Left, who could see no good thing from former President Bush, the extreme Right can see no good in President Obama.

This didn’t begin with either President Obama or President Bush.  In 1994, extreme Right-wingers published that awful book and movie, The Clinton Chronicles, which, in my opinion, effectively immunised President Clinton during his impeachment trial,  discrediting ALL criticism against him.  Ronald Reagan’s critics called him “an amiable dunce”–and worse.  Hyperpartisans apparently always see the worst in their opponents.

So what does all this have to do with Mormonism?  Very simply, many–if not most–anti-Mormons have as much trouble seeing anything benign–let alone anything good–in Mormonism as hyperpartisan Republicans and Democrats have with seeing anything positive in each other.  For example, where most people see an effort by the Church to rid the world of ungodly things like porn and to secure the right to worship God unmolested, anti-Mormons like Ed Decker and Dave Hunt see an insidious attempt to overthrow the lawful government of the USA to engage in a reign of terror against “real” Christians everywhere.

Like secular hyperpartisans, they attack others for what they do themselves–to the point of twisting what their targets actually say.  When Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cautioned against ignoring God the Father and the Holy Ghost in their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, anti-Mormons falsely claimed that it was official LDS doctrine to NOT have a relationship with Jesus Christ–at all!   Furthermore, I don’t recall any objection to Hinn’s February 1987 sermon cautioning Lakeland’s Carpenters Home Church attendees to not ignore the Holy Spirit.

I suppose that ignoring the positive about one’s opponents is only human.  I’ve seen too many instances of Latter-day Saints bad-mouthing non-LDS Christians–and not just anti-Mormons.  While (as believing Latter-day Saints should) I remain a believer that ancient Christianity had suffered from an apostasy, I find that I must remind myself of the sometimes heroic efforts of non-LDS Christians to salvage what there is of the Christian Faith (and there is a LOT!)–lest I fall into the trap of believing–as anti-Mormons claim we do–that non-LDS Christians are so thoroughly corrupt that there is nothing good left. It may help to remember that we can learn good things even from non-Christians.

Indeed, if we remind ourselves of the good in those who are “other,” we do three things:

1. It allows us to follow the advice of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true Mormons.”

2.  It adds credibility to our side. Because we don’t always look for evil, we are less likely to be blinded from real good.

3. It establishes “common ground;” preventing the “I’m great, you stink” mentality, and, in a related fashion (and most importantly!),

4.  We build charity, or the pure Love of Christ, as commanded in I Corinthians 13. If we do not, then, as I John 4:1-6 puts it, we are not His.

84 thoughts on ““Mormon Derangement Syndrome”

  1. Seth R.

    I always compare the ex-Mormon community to ex-spouses after a divorce. Like there are a lot of different divorces out there, there are a lot of differing exit-stories from Mormonism.

    Some people divorce, more or less politely. They still keep in touch, they pay child support, they don’t try to sabotage the other parent in the eyes of the kids. Doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt, but they’ve managed to be adults about it.

    On the other end of the spectrum, you have people who divorced very bitterly. They absolutely hate each other, they seem to have completely forgotten or dismissed any of the reasons they loved the person in the first place. Now there is nothing but a filthy human being over there. They sabotage joint custody arrangements, they bad-mouth the ex-spouse to anyone who will listen, and often, they blame all their problems on the other.

    There’s a lot of self-justification involved as well. Of course, the divorce was all HER fault. It was because she did such-and-such and because she said this-and-that. It wasn’t MY fault at all – heavens no! I’m the victim here!

    There is a refusal to take any sort of personal responsibility at all for the failed marriage. Everything becomes about revenge and self-justification.

    That’s another extreme on the spectrum.

    Keep in mind there is a spectrum of behavior and a spectrum of exit stories.

    And not all ex-Mormons remain in one category or the other their entire lives. Some start out angry and seek group therapy on places like exmormon.org, but eventually get over it, and learn to be well-adjusted human beings again. Others can start out indifferent to the whole thing and get progressively more angry as time goes on.

    It varies.

  2. Steven Danderson

    Hi Seth!

    What you wrote is most certainly true.

    I wonder, though, about those who have NEVER been members? Why do THEY suffer from “Mormon Derangement Syndrome”?

  3. TJ Shelby

    Your point is well-taken but I fear that we also sometimes lump all ex-mormon criticisms into the “deranged and bitter” category. Why not instead examine the merits of their words? Decker and Hunt are easily dismissed based upon the lunacy of their work by Mormons. However, in my opinion, that same simple shunning should not apply to ex-Mormons like D. Michael Quinn. Unfortunately, when trying to discuss his work, more often than not, all I hear is “well, he’s gay” or “yeah, ex-mormons will do and say anything to show the church in a bad light.”

    Most Mormons can’t seem to accept that all ex-Mormons are not bitter and trying to destroy the Church. Then again, why wouldn’t they? It’s what any governing leadership would want the masses to believe about dissenters, right? Granted, in the Mormon culture…it does seem to be overwhelmingly the case, (Decker, Tanners) but it doesn’t mean it is an absolute rule. There are exceptions.

  4. Seanette

    Steven, I think a lot of that (speaking as a former fundamentalist, now LDS) comes from indoctrination. I’m sure you’re aware of all the stories about us (mostly from disgruntled ex-members like Decker, etc.). Well, there are otherwise well-meaning people in the anti-Mormon world who’ve just been indoctrinated with that hatred so thoroughly they’re afraid to check us out for themselves.

  5. James

    I too have run across ex-Mormon and never-Mormon critics who seem to view the Church as the very spawn of Satan. These are the folks who see the Church’s humanitarian efforts around the world as nothing more than a plot to make ourselves look like Christians, so we can convert more people.

    These are the Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christians who praise our efforts in the Prop 8 fight, but in the next breath suggest that our efforts are motivated by some dark plot.

    I’ve always liked Krister Stendahl’s rules for inter-religious dialogue. I can’t remember anymore where I first heard them:

    (1) When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.

    (2) Don’t compare your best to their worst.

    (3) Leave room for “holy envy.” (By this Stendahl meant that you should be willing to recognize elements in the other religious tradition or faith that you admire and wish could, in some way, be reflected in your own religious tradition or faith.)

  6. Ryan

    One of my favorite lessons to teach in Elder’s quorum is one about the Great Apostasy. Not because we talk about the loss of plain and precious truths, but because we talk about the truths that were PRESERVED, and the foundation that was laid for the restoration during the Dark Ages.

    When I bring up the names of early Christian fathers, as well as those of Protestant reformers, and mention what role they played in the restoration, it always generates a positive response from people – mainly because they had never thought of them in that way before.

    It is pride, and an obvious bias that keeps us from acknowledging the good in others with whom we do not agree. It saddens me to witness such behavior from both LDS and non-LDS, alike.

    One last thing, the “holy envy” mentioned above certainly comes into play for me when I am wishing the children would be more reverent during sacrament meeting! From my experience, the Catholics do a good job of maintaining reverence during their services, so I give them lots of credit for that.

  7. Steve

    Good point. I did vote for Obama because I saw that many of the tactics used against him were the same as those used against the Church and often by the same people. I don’t agree with him on everything but since I live in Utah my vote was merely symbolic. I think we need to apply this same thinking to many other issues such as immigration.

  8. Cowboy

    I’ve always liked Krister Stendahl’s rules for inter-religious dialogue. I can’t remember anymore where I first heard them:

    (1) When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.

    In other words, if you want to understand the so-called anti-Mormon, it would be best to ask them rather than Mormons

    (2) Don’t compare your best to their worst.

    Let’s see, Ed Decker? He’s certainly among the worst, if not THE worst.

    (3) Leave room for “holy envy.” (By this Stendahl meant that you should be willing to recognize elements in the other religious tradition or faith that you admire and wish could, in some way, be reflected in your own religious tradition or faith.)

    I don’t expect Mormons to obviously embrace alternate position, so I will extend a pass on this one.

  9. Cowboy

    Steve, two points:

    1) I can’t tell whether this is a post about seeing the good in your Christian neighbors (many of whom happen to be anti-Mormons by the way), or just another bash on what you percieve to be the stereotype anti-Mormon. From observation, your view on the character of “anti-Mormons” seems to be the one most flattering to your view of yourself, ie the subject of persecution. Quite frankly this puts your last post back under the microscope, because again you are using the worst examples extant to marginalize those who leave the Church.

    2) You should pay attention to Seth R’s comments, because he actually did a very good job of illustrating the “Mormon break-up”. T.J. Shelby also painted it very well. Yes, there are some “anti-Mormons” out there who fit your mold, ie Ed Decker, but the spectrum is much broader than that.

    My initial reaction when I read this Steve was, how would he like if I started tauting the “Mormonism is a cult” rant nonsense. Then I realized, actually that is exactly what Steve wants, because it suits his expectations.

  10. Steven Danderson Post author

    Hi TJ!

    Of course not all ex-Mormons try to destroy the Church. I would even venture to say that most of them leave us–and leave us alone. On the other hand, those who choose to write about us tend to have axes to grind. Doctors Quinn and Criddle strike me as two examples of this. Dr. Quinn is wont to cast innoccuous statements into a context of same-sex activities. It IS possible to embrace friends and relatives without going to bed with them! ;)

    I have, of course, commented on Dr. Criddle’s axes here:
    http://www.fairblog.org/2008/12/14/lies-expletive…and-statisticslies-expletive-deleted-lies-and-statistics/

  11. Steven Danderson Post author

    I agree, Seanette!

    Of course, I used to be a Fundamentalist Christian, as well! ;)

    When asked what was wrong with the Baptists, I reply, “Nothing. I joined the Latter-day Saints to gain further light and knowledge. Just because I have a graduate degree, it doesn’t mean that I should disparage high school!” ;)

  12. Steven Danderson Post author

    On BOTH sides of the issue, Steve! Many of the same people who are offended at attacks against President Obama launched them against President Bush!

    On immigration, it doesn’t make sense to punish people for trying to improve thiers and their families’ lives. On the other hand, disparagement of laws that every government has a right to make tends to undermine the very rule of law.

    We cannot shoot or eject the Undocumentados, but neither can we just ignore the fact that they’re here illegally. God, I think, has a good answer, and it involves repentance. They should register, and get in back of the line. Once the take steps to comply with the law, they’re no longer illegal, and we should have no problem with them. Those who don’t comply, of course, should be kicked out. I have little truck with either the anti-immigrant or the don’t enforce the law crowds.

    As an example of this, our Ward had an alien with legal difficulties. Our very wise Bishop decided against either extreme of “giving sanctuary” or reporting them or turning them in. Rather, we worked with the US government to ensure that all of his paperwork was in order, and that his status is entirely legal.

    Do I make sense?

  13. Steven Danderson Post author

    As I’ve said before, not all non-Mormons are anti-Mormons.

    1. Even though I was a Baptists, I usually do not pontificate on their doctrine–especially I don’t do this with intent to denigrate them! If I want to know official Baptist doctrine, I ask THEM–even though I used to be a member!

    2. What makes you think that ANTI-Mormons believe that Ed Decker is their worst? On the other hand, I have spoken and written approvingly of such NON-Mormons as Mother Teresa, Saint Francis of Assissi, Billy Graham–and others.

    3. Non-Latter-day Saints have done MANY wonderful things. I mention seven about Islam here:
    http://www.fairblog.org/2008/05/03/seven-admirable-things-about-islam/

    I can just as easily say them about several other non-LDS groups–even non-LDS Christian ones:
    http://www.fairblog.org/2008/08/09/reevaluating-the-great-apostasy/

    Cowboy, it’s pretty hard to understand ANTI-Mormons when they think you’re a demon–and treat you accordingly! ;)

    More seriously, I’ve tried asking anti-Mormons what they believe–many times. I always get the same answer: Mormons are evil and have no reason to exist.

    I ask, “And your evidence is….?” The response: “Because I said so!” or “It’s in the Bible.” “Where?” I am directed to some text, which, of course, says nothing about the LDS.

    Then they have the gall to tell me that they’ve proven that we’re evil, and have no reason to exist!

    Again, we are NOT attacking NON-Mormons! Anti-Mormons are only a small subset of the non-LDS groups, and their acts, rather than being an example of the Baptist, Assemblies of God, atheists, or any other group they claim to belong to, are really a REPUDIATION of the best of all of these groups!

  14. Steven Danderson Post author

    From observation, your view on the character of “anti-Mormons” seems to be the one most flattering to your view of yourself, ie the subject of persecution. Quite frankly this puts your last post back under the microscope, because again you are using the worst examples extant to marginalize those who leave the Church.

    Once more, since you still seem to think I conflate all non-Mormons with anti-Mormons: People are NOT anti-Mormons for merely disbelieving our doctrines, or having criticisms about our behaviour; they are anti-Mormons only if they seek to undo the Church or the faith of its members. Please read my blog entry on the subject here:
    http://www.fairblog.org/2008/02/09/who-are-anti-mormons-and-who-arent/

    You should pay attention to Seth R’s comments, because he actually did a very good job of illustrating the “Mormon break-up”. T.J. Shelby also painted it very well. Yes, there are some “anti-Mormons” out there who fit your mold, ie Ed Decker, but the spectrum is much broader than that.

    Unless they’re either trying to cause, accelerate, or aggravate that “break-up,” they’re not anti-Mormon, and I’m not talking about them. Anti-Mormons are a very small percentage of non- or even ex-Mormons. The rest have other, better things to do than to “break-up” the Church.

    Anti-Mormons are not an example of whatever group they claim allegiance; rather, their anti-Momron acts are a repudiation of the best withing them. I HAD though I made that clear!

    My initial reaction when I read this Steve was, how would he like if I started tauting the “Mormonism is a cult” rant nonsense. Then I realized, actually that is exactly what Steve wants, because it suits his expectations.

    Frankly, I’d avoid that mind-reading trap, if I were you; it isn’t becoming of you any more than it is to anti-Mormons! ;)

    Why on earth should it suit my expectations, unless YOU are trying to “break-up” the Church or the faith of its members?

  15. Cowboy

    Frankly, I’d avoid that mind-reading trap, if I were you; it isn’t becoming of you any more than it is to anti-Mormons!

    Cowboy, it’s pretty hard to understand ANTI-Mormons when they think you’re a demon–and treat you accordingly!

    Steve:

    I think you need to more specifically identify this particular subset that you are referring to as “Anti-Mormon”. You latest comments seem to be pointed to certain types of “anti-Mormon” Christian ministries. If that is the case then I agree this group can and does get very ridiculous. They are the ones who are usually apt to call Mormons “demons”, Cults, and other such nonsense. From your earlier comments it sounded like you were painting more or less all former Mormon’s with that label.

    For the record, yes, Ed Decker would be on the bad side, he is completely dishonest in his attempts to denigrate the Church. From before, you wouldn’t like it if Mormons were characterized based on Paul H. Dunn scandal. So let’s not make Ed Decker the poster child for those who leave the Church.

  16. Steve

    To Steven Danderson

    I thought this post was very insightful and know it is not really about politics but they were used as an example of a mind set. I don’t want to side track this discussion but I will continue with my observation. I do appreciate your fair comment directed toward my post and wish more people were able to see both sides. I followed much of the media’s coverage of Mitt Romney on religion and found it very interesting and unfair at times. I did not plan on voting for him. (Like I said I live in Utah) and that vote would not make any difference. Then I began to receive e-mails about Obama that had much of the same flavor from the same people. I find Obama a bit scary myself, but know good people that like him including my returned missionary son. I don’t think it right he should have to feel he had to choose between his faith and his political views. (I know some do feel that way, but I have not seen that among the brethren.) I do feel that many in the church recognize the unfair attacks made by others when directed toward our faith but then they embrace their political agenda hook line and sinkers because it has some good in it with out recognizing the prejudices and distortions that are also their. If I post again I will go by Steve G. so as not to be confused with the main author of the post.

  17. Seth R.

    My experience is that most non-Mormons don’t know much about or care much about the LDS Church generally. Most Evangelicals don’t know much about us and aren’t really paying attention – for instance.

  18. Steven Danderson

    Hi Steve G.!

    Thank you for the kind words! My wife is a Clinton, Democrat, so I suppose you can imagine family life around election time! ;)

    Even though the bulk of our Ward are Republicans, my wife reports that she suffers no discrimination, save listening to occasional anti-Clinton or anti-Obama remarks. But then, when I was a grad assistant, I got some rough treatment by the NEA! :p

    My colleague, Greg Kearney, wrote a piece about his political philosophy here:
    http://www.fairblog.org/2008/02/01/i-am-a-democrat/

    I don’t have theological problems with Democrats, or Brother Kearney’s post as a whole, but I recoil at the implication that Republicans don’t have Gospel traits (I’m sure you recoil at its mirror image! ;) ).

    The truth is, both modern liberals and conservatives stand for freedom. It’s just that each has a slightly different definition of freedom, and each emphasizes different aspects of freedom.

    To get back on target, just as partisan bickering leads to the idea that “the other” are morally lacking, religious polemics lead sectarians to damn other groups as “non-Christian,” or worse, anti-Christian.

    THis has to stop!

  19. Steven Danderson

    Cowboy:

    Perhaps I, as well as others, must relearn the lesson about assumptions. You do, of course remember the old saw about what happens when you assume? ;)

    One assumption that I made is that people who comment know the stand that I outlined here:
    http://www.fairblog.org/2008/02/09/who-are-anti-mormons-and-who-arent/

    Looking at the date, I shouldn’t be surprised that people HAVEN’T read something over a year old. However, I AM surprised that that much time passed! ;)

    One problem, I think, is when others tell all and sundry, including you–ESPECIALLY you–what you think and how you define words. If enemies would use standard English, it wouldn’t be so bad, but it does get tiring to hear that you DON’T mean or mean the OPPOSITE of what you say! :p

    On such event is when we’re told that by “anti-Mormon,” we mean “non-Mormon.” The problem, of course, compounds when we define what we say, and we’re called liars. VERY annoying!

    When we’re NOT allowed to define ourselves, it’s easy for others to believe our enemies. Maybe we LDS should remember that!

    [By the by: I have observed that such word-twisting is common among anti-Mormons! ;) ]

    Pax!

  20. Steve G.

    Maybe I don’t understand all the implications but I never thought that Paul Dunn was that much of a scandal. As I understand the man he was trained to preach at a Protestant University and part of that training was to make the story work to fit the point you are trying to make. I agree it may not have been the wisest thing for him to do. As he explained, “Jesus taught in parables”. Though I understand that not all of his stories were completely factual the concepts and doctrine was good and his greatest desire was to inspire young people to be and do good.

  21. Steven Danderson Post author

    Steve G.

    I agree; Elder Dunn isn’t that much of a scandal. In some instances critics strain at a gnat. An example: Dunn claimed to have played for the “St. Louis Cardinals organization.” Since he only played for one of their minor league teams, Dunn is called a liar. Well, those of us who are knowledgeable about baseball terms know that playing in the “[Insert team here] organization” means that you are in one of that team’s minor league affiliates. This is a factually true statement, which might be misleading to an audience ignorant of baseball jargon. On the other hand, Dunn lived in a place and era where we’re fed that jargon–“with Mother’s milk”! ;)

    There are other area’s, however, that are not so benign. It is one thing to gratuitously inserted himself where he wasn’t to protect others’ privacy, but in these cases, there was no good reason for that–and it wasn’t an essential part of the story. I don’t think that is right to do.

    But, since he is dead, and we are incompetant to pass judgment, I think we ought to leave it to God. ;)

  22. Cowboy

    The man (Paul H. Dunn) was caught lying on a number of issues. I think we can spare the details, but let’s not get confused into thinking that he was just following the master’s example by speaking in parables.

    The point I was trying to make is that Paul H. Dunn was a bad example of honesty, but we (Church critics) would be unwise and unfair to suggest that all general authorities are therefore dishonest like Paul H. Dunn. The same goes for Church critic’s, you are being highly unfair at this point by suggesting that all, or most, critics are as dishonest and irrational as Ed Decker, or Schroeder.

  23. Steve G.

    I appreciate Cowboys point. I don’t know too much about Elder Dunn and his motives. I got a little side tracked again. I think Cowboy sounds like a nice person. It is obvious that not all critics are as mean spirited and bigoted as those mentioned above. It does seem to me like a lot of critics have the desire to poison the water and spread misinformation. I am sure that Latter-day Saints being human we bring some of the criticism justly on our selves. I can see other reasons that and individual would become a critic besides being dishonest and irrational. I am sure that many individuals are convinced their world view is correct and since the church stands for things that may not square with their world view they feel the need to point out where we are wrong. Even among this group many do not care enough to really find out what the Church teaches or stands for but chose to go to secondary souses that are often dishonest, possibly because they feel we cannot be trusted. In all honesty I am sure there are individuals like Cowboy who are more intelligent than myself and who have come to different conclusions from me by looking at the available information. For myself I love the restored gospel and find the greatest joy in life trying to live it. I have only found it to be good in my life. I do wish others who see things differently the best and wish we could all get a long. I do realize that may be hard considering different world views. I hope this adds to the conversation.

  24. Steven Danderson Post author

    Cowboy:

    Look: If those who are knowledgeable about the Church are not LDS, I think it is pretty obvious that they have what they see as justifiable criticisms of the Church; that is, they believe that there is something not quite right about it. That is OK; information–including Gospel knowledge–bears positive costs, and not everybody can pay them (I have treated, and will treat this elsewhere! ;) ). Even non-members like Jan Shipps, who has a positive view of Mormonism, would, strictly speaking, be critics.

    There are BIG differences between, say, Mike Adams, who has rather pointed criticisms against Joseph Smith and the Church, but accepts us as Christians, if with a deficient theology [See http://www.townhall.com/columnists/MikeSAdams/2006/06/05/visions_of_joseph_smith and http://www.townhall.com/columnists/MikeSAdams/2006/06/07/revelations_of_joseph_smith, and the likes of Ed Decker [http://www.saintsalive.com/]. This is why I differentiate between non-Mormon and anti-Mormon.

    There are, I suppose, those who fall near the borderline between a critic of Mormonism and an anti-Mormon. Perhaps they should ask themselves if they’d REALLY prefer to be nearer the spirit of Decker than the spirit of Shipps. I would suggest that if one actually defends one or more claims against the Church made by Decker or another anti-Mormon, it may be prudent to do something else to distance oneself from those anti-Mormons. Getting too near that awful border makes one vulnerable to actually crossing it.

  25. Cowboy

    Steven:

    I’ll leave my remarks at this. We should all be seeking the truth, period. I don’t care if someone is “Anti-Mormon” or “Molly Mormon”, if they are being honest, thorough in their research, and polite, then we ought promote conversation without trying to marginalize one another.

  26. Steven Danderson Post author

    Cowboy:

    I would submit that this is the difference between a critical non-Mormon and an anti-Mormon: The former, when he sees good, will acknowledge it; the latter will not; that gets in the way of grinding his axe.

    Peace!

  27. Jeff

    Seth was right on with his first comment. The note was very well done in my opinion. I disagree with “Real Christians” just as much as you do, but not all anti/ex/post/non mormons are “Real Christians”, and are concerned about the church for other reasons.
    If you want to , go ahead and read my rant below. Thoughtful replies are welcome.


    Has anyone read the church manuals about apostasy? The apostate quotes by JS & BY? Or any of the prophets? Has anyone read what Jesus says will happen to apostates?
    Is it a wonder why there is a such a polar divide once one stops believing? Is it a wonder that they are shunned when they “come out of the closet”?
    Why does the LDS church teach such polarity if the ex/anti/post mormons aren’t so evil?
    Does the LDS church encourage this behavior? If not, how can you justify the vast amount of anti-apostate rhetoric?

    Now i’m sure some of the people you talk about exist. (The bitter) I don’t believe I’m one of them. I’m not bitter, but I’m angry. I want nothing more than to be completely indifferent to this religion. I enjoy having LDS friends, but I’m finding that I relate with them less and less. The way some of them can completely change their views of me on a simple change of belief is astounding. Seeing as I’m in a heavily mormon area and that my entire family is LDS, what do I do? Do I avoid making LDS friends? Do I live like a hermit? Do i pretend to be LDS? Do I pretend I never saw through any of the lies? Is any organization so pure that it shouldn’t be criticized?

    I want to be indifferent, but when things like Prop 8 happen, it shows me that religious dogma is dangerous.

    I feel the desire to deconvert others. It’s not something I want to make someone else have to go through though, and it’s not out of spite. I feel like a critical non-mormon who sees that the world is changing, and if the LDS church doesn’t, then it will dwindle in numbers. I don’t even know what the best method would be. Rational discussion? Indifference? Ranting like a madman? What it comes down to for me, is that the LDS organization doesn’t follow the golden rule. I won’t attempt to explain here.

    The church frowns on (religious) critical thinking,
    tells its members to strip civil rights of a minority,
    and worst of all, doesn’t even take accountability for it. (Prop 8 )
    It is commonly argued that the LDS church didn’t have an impact on the election.
    Do any of the following arguments sound like accountability to you?
    “It’s just anti-mormons criticizing us”
    “We’re persecuted because of our beliefs and free agency to vote”
    “LDS only had less than 5% of the vote”.
    “It was the blacks and Mexicans who did it”
    “‘NO on 8′ voters used more money than our $20M.”

    The fairlds.org site screams “WE’RE PERSECUTED!!”, the headline picture is of vandalism! Religion initiates a ballot to strip rights from gays, and then cries “Don’t persecute me”?!?!? Can anyone see where I’m coming from? Because the multiple times I’ve brought it up with LDS, they fail to see what I’m trying to point out.

    I expected better arguments from FAIR, but i found these arguments on THIS site! I would expect a: “Yes we’re partly accountable, maybe even highly accountable. We voted because of our religious beliefs, and aren’t surprised to be ridiculed by the world/worldly”. But I hear none of this.
    I did not mean to post this long/bleed off topic, but maybe you can tell I’m heavily invested in the psychology of the mormon community. Call me a concerned citizen.

  28. Cowboy

    Fair enough Steve. So what would the Mormon equivalent of the “Anti-Mormon” be?

  29. Steve G.

    I think Cowboy has a fair question. I believe if we keep trying to live the gospel and have the spirit of the Lord we will be careful to not be anti-anti-Mormon. I think if we get too partisan we may to be in danger of crossing the line. I wonder if getting the majority of our opinions from talk radio, being too rapped up in a political agenda, gospel hobbies or believing all the mass e-mails we receive can lead to self righteousness and narrow mindedness. Possibly Chris Butters could be close to the line at times and thus the Church had to come out and say that he did not speak for them. I think we need to accept that we may have different world views of what is good and may be working for different goals as Jeff pointed out but we should always have a “civil and respectful dialog”. There definitely is lots of misinformation out there. It can be hard to not take the hate personally but the Lord is in charge. I want to thank Fair and Farms for the insights they give on issues.

  30. Cr@ig P@xton

    Oh Boy! (rolling my eyes) Brother Danderson, if nothing else…at least you’re consistent. Did we learn nothing from your last “Anti-Mormon” post? Using such broad inclusive generalities such as many–if not most–anti-Mormons is not conducive to better understanding. Why can’t an anti-Mormon (and YES there are Anti-Mormon’s and even this church critic would place the anti-Mormon label on Decker) stand on their own merits rather than having the think stopping term anti-Mormon used to lump critics of the LDS Church into one anti-Mormon bucket. Am I being overly sensitive? Am I misunderstanding something from your post?

    And although I understand that the FAIR blog is a pro-LDS platform, your suggestion that the LDS worldview is somehow superior to all other worldviews (A University Degree vs. a High School education) is plainly an unsupportable arrogant premise. The LDS worldview is neither superior nor inferior…it is just one of many alternative competing religious worldviews offering yet another view on how we got here and where we’re supposedly going. It has no greater claim to superior knowledge or truth than does Islam, Judaism or any of the many variants of Christianity. Can you offer us anything to support you’re claim to Mormon superiority? Would your support be any better than that offered by other competing claims? If not…I suggest you take a more humble position in the future. Claiming to be something does not make it so.

    The 10’s of thousands of former active members who choose to resign from the One and Only True Church on the face of the earth…must have some basis for doing so…. It can’t all be for the want of sin and offence. Somewhere in this discussion…the good folks at FAIR must admit that there has to be other legitimate reasons for this out flow of the once active believing Mormon.

  31. Cr@ig P@xton

    I’m going to throw the FAIR camp a bone. I’d love to see a thread on the following topic.

    Last January I met and had lunch with one of the “Authorized” FAIR Bloggers. Although I wanted to better understand “HOW” he is able to accommodate LDS dogma in spite of what I respectfully refer to as reality…I was too engrossed in my own story at the time to allow this person, whom I respect, to adequately explain the “HOW” before our time together ran out. Sorry…after all, it is all about “me” right?

    So here’s my honest request:

    I want to know HOW you are able to maintain belief in spite of what I percieve as reality. Is my reality distorted (I suspect you’d say yes) or are you able to accommodate difficult issues, discount them and put them on your back shelf without feeling the effects of the cognitive dissonance? (I’d say yes)

    From my perspective… so much of current LDS thought conflicts with reality…as to make my decision to be a former member acceptable. But heck, if I’m wrong…I’d be a fool not to want to know that I’m wrong.

    The “authorized Bloggers” at FAIR know what you believe and also know what you have to accommodate in order to accept as believable the beliefs you hold. Those of us that once counted ourselves among the LDS faithful…think we know the difficult undercurrents of Mormon history and the realities of science which triggered our non-belief…yet knowing that, those on my side of the fence think you also know the same things we do yet are able to discount them or totally ignore them in order to accommodate belie and maintain social status…just as I also once did.

    We do not understand “HOW” you are able to maintain belief and make the necessary concessions and accommodations in order to make your beliefs believable.

    So can someone please answer the “HOW” question. Am I just up in the night? Are my views of Mormonism so skewed from reality that I’m the one who has got it wrong? In other words…is your reality the real reality vs. mine? I think we’d all agree that either one of us is right and the other wrong or both of us is wrong.

    So help me understand…HOW you do it…

  32. Steve G.

    I know the question was not directed to me and we probably can not have an honest respectful discussion on this topic. At least in my life experience I have found that when people ask questions like the above they are often really not interested in my honest answer but are asking to ridicule or score points or to make me fell foolish. I am not a regular fair contributor and am not a scholar and only have a few minutes during a break to respond to such a personal question as “How” I believe in spite of some of the humanness that is found in the church. My back ground is a B.S. in psychology from the U of U and a registered nurse, not to impressive. I have worked in the mental health field for 9 years and the medical field for 10 years and like to read and try to understand things. I like to think I may have some understanding of life and the sciences and some of the things that were alluded to above. I agree with Craig that there are many different possible interpretations of life and “the facts”. I like to keep an open mind on the things in science and the gospel and politics. Having some training in psychology which is possible on of the ‘softer sciences” I am aware that there are multiple interpitations of what we observe. I have never found anything that has caused me to feel like I needed to give up my faith. It is true that I cannot explain everything and probably do not have a satisfactory answer to all the “whys” and problems in life. I have found that probably no one else has all the answers either. They may be able to give better thought out and more articulate answers than myself but we may not have the final reality yet. Probably if I could choose the few things that were not found in the LDS tradition it would be the mountain meadow massacre, polygamy, and the priesthood ban, and the fact that the prophets through out history being very good men, much better than my self, were still human beings and sometimes showed some of the symptoms of being human. I have found the explanations given by good historians or apologists in the church on the above issues to be at least as satisfactory as those outside the church and in my opinion are usually more honestly and kind in their interpretations. The reason to why I believe in the gospel has to do with what it does for my life and the life of my family. For the spiritual demention it brings into my life. It is part of our theology that God loves all of his children and seeks to bless them as they seek him so I don’t have a problem with, but rejoice in, the good I see in others not of my faith. I have found that as I exercise faith and try to live the gospel that I have strength to live better than I could on my own. It has been my observation that my life is better off because I try to be faithful to my covents rather than going to an x rated theater with some of my class mates or taking the opportunity to be unfaithful to my wife with one of my co-workers. I have found that as I try to have what I believe is the Spirit of the Lord that I am able to have more peace and strength to do what I believe is right than if I turned away from the gospel. I am sure that others outside of the church can tap into that spirit and strength and live good lives. I am aware that not all within the church take the opportunity to do so. So the reason the I believe and what my testimony is built on is the assurance of the Savior that if we will do Gods will we shall know of the doctrine wheater it comes form God or not. I have found that when I try to live the gospel I have more peace and strength than I do when I turn away. I do have a Testimony of the restored gospel. For those who choose a different path I would wish them the best.

  33. cr@ig P@xton

    Steven, I’ve been waiting nearly a week for someone to respond to my question. I appreciate your sincere response and I do appreciate your honest answer.

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself…but I would never intentionally ask this serious question only to turn around and then ridicule you or try to score points or try to make you feel foolish. So I hope by asking a follow-up question to you or anyone else who may chose to respond isn’t seen as such. I really want to try and understand.

    From my view, so much of Mormonism’s claims are in complete 180 degree opposition with reality…so as to make them completely unbelievable. Now having said that, and going back to my original post on this subject, I accept that there are those out there who are aware of Mormonism’s problems YET are still able to believe. I don’t know HOW one does this.

    Perhaps an example would be helpful at this point. As an active member of the LDS church I was taught that the Fall of Adam introduced both physical and spiritual death into the world. (This is a view STILL taught in church lesson manuals) According to the churches own web site…this supposed fall took place approximately 4,000 BCE, a mere 6,000 years ago. How can any reasonably educated person believe this? How does one ignore the fossil record which shows that both life and death has existed on our planet for millions of years, that mankind in some form has existed for 10’s of thousands of years…NOT 6,000 years as claimed by the LDS church. To me, the church is on the wrong side of reality.

    Now going back to your post…I would like to make one remark on your…” observation that [your] life is better off because [you] try to be faithful to [your] convents rather than going to an x rated theater with some of [your] class mates or taking the opportunity to be unfaithful to[your] wife with one of[your] co-workers.”

    Come on Steve…you seem to be an intelligent individual. Do you really believe that this is what happens to those who leave the influence of the church? Once on the outside we slip into some alternative lifestyle and stoop to all forms of debauchery? I don’t think you honestly believe this nor should you. What actually happens to those that do leave the church is that they become self directing adults and no longer have to subscribe to the moral dictates of someone in SLC. They become who they really are…free thinking individuals free to make their own individual choices. If they watched X-rated movies as a conflicted Mormon…they probably now watch X-rated movies as an unconflicted ex-member. If they held desires to cheat on their spouse as a TBM, they probably still hold those desires now. But if they were a good loving fathers, wife or child…they probably still hold those moral values. Leaving the church does NOT make one a mass murderer… but a self directed individual adult.

    I hope you don’t feel that in pointing this out that I am in any way poking fun at you…I just felt that this incorrect perspection needed to be clearified.

  34. Steve G.

    I am not an expert on evolution and from what I have read there very likely is a lot of truth to the theory. I like to get books on tape a the library and I recently listened to a book by a historian of science an His conclusion and I believe it is pretty accurate is that we have not reached the final conclusion on that subject. I don’t really have a problem either way. I am not sure where on the church website you were referring to but I am sure you were telling the truth. My belief is that were good men who are familiar with the spirit disagree on an issiue I do not have to sweat over it to much. I think that to be a believing Latter-day Saint you have to believe in the fall but you do not have to believe that there was no death before the fall. I can have an open mind on that. On the examples about X rated movies those were just personal experiences that I have had where I have had to make a choice between living the gospel and giving it up when encouraged by my peers. I am sure that many good people out side the church live good lives.

  35. Seth R.

    I just say the LDS Church, insofar as it actually does claim that the earth is literally only 6,000 years old, is simply wrong. Then I get on with life and prepare my kids for Sacrament Meeting.

    See. Wasn’t that easy?

  36. Cowboy

    Sorry if this is a thread jack, but the doctrines of the fall within the LDS context are intrinsically connected to atonement. I know this is not what you meant Seth, but one can just easily state from the same logic while debating the possibility of a person rising from the dead:

    “Insofar as the LDS Church claims that Jesus actually raised from the dead and then ascended into the clouds, they are simply wrong. Then I get on with life and prepare my kids for sacrament meeting”.

    I only point this out because it is not that easy. The fall is an essential core doctrine to the Church, and as part of that doctrine death did not enter the world until after the fall. Obviously the Church’s position is not as strong as it once was, some argue that is because early Church leaders (Joseph Fielding Smith) were to cavalier in stating opinion in such a way that members believed it to be either doctrine or revelation. I think we could also argue however that the ambiguity is rather a result of the fact that discounting evolution broadly is just not tenable, aside from just natural selection.

  37. Theodore Brandley

    Hi cr@ig,

    The concept that Adam’s fall brought death to all creatures stems from the following scripture:

    And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. (2 Nephi 2:22)

    Several church leaders have interpreted this scripture to mean that there was no death of any plants and animals prior to the fall of Adam and it generally became accepted as a doctrine of the Church. However, it is a basic tenet of the Church that only the sitting president can declare what is official doctrine of the Church. To my knowledge, no sitting president of the Church has ever declared that there was no death of plants or animals prior to the fall of Adam.

    My personal interpretation of this scripture is that it does not mean that no animal or plant ever died before the fall of Adam. The fall of Adam and Eve brought death into the world, meaning death to them and their descendents. There are fossils of living plants and animals that obviously predate man. The plant material that Adam and the animals ate obviously died. I believe that the scripture means that nothing could have progressed from the telestial and terrestrial states in which they were created and therefore the earth could never achieve the celestial state for which it was created.

    Adam and Eve were created outside of the terrestrial Garden of Eden and then later placed in the Garden. Eve knew about the lone and dreary world outside of the Garden because they had once lived there. She also knew that because of her transgression she would be cast back out there and Adam would be a lone man in the garden. There was obviously a significant difference between conditions inside and conditions outside of the garden. One of those conditions which made it so dreary would have been death.

    What other apparent contradictions have caused you to lose your testimony?

    Theodore

  38. Cowboy

    Seth: I agree that the literalness of a six thousand year interpretation of things has been debated for a long time. Section 77 seems to imply a seven thousand year temporal existence. In defense of this comment in light of accepted scientific understanding the response has been to extrapolate on the reference the earth’s “temporal existence”. I don’t find this as a sufficient explanation, as I read that as referring to the fact that the earth according to Mormon doctrine is a living, and saved creation, therefore it will exist eternally.

    Theodore: Joseph Fielding Smith spoke clearly against the notion that death existed prior to the fall. To paraphrase, If death already existed then creation was already fallen, or it was created fallen, and if so what need is there for redemption. Suffice it to say, that the new positions of ambivalence favoring acceptance towards evolution have not come from Prophetic pronouncements in the affirmative, but rather accepted scientific discovery. Being a step behind science and society isn’t exactly a strong case for Prophets here.

  39. cr@ig P@xton

    Thank you Theodore for helping me to better understand how you have interpreted LDS doctrine to help you explain this conflict of mine. This idea of both Eve and Adam having lived outside the boundaries of the Garden of Eden prior to their having been placed there is a new concept to me (other than Brigham Young’s assertion that they were created on a different planet). But in re-reading the creation stories in the standard works I can see how one could partially accommodate this view. According to these scriptures, God “Placed” Adam in the Garden of Eden after he had created him in the creation stories. He then creates the Garden of Eden. Thanks for pointing that out to me. But from every source I can find EVE was created while in the Garden. So how can you say that she had prior knowledge rather than just knowledge of the lone and dreary world?

    Then we have to deal with the sticky issue of the 100 thousand year human fossil record and a DNA trail that leads back to Africa rather than Missouri. Both of these issues seem NOT to support an LDS belief in a Missouri based Garden nor Eden as the origin of humanity.

    As for “other” issues…I could write volumes… My former testimony has been shattered into a billion shards of splintered glass. Trying to fit them back together has been, so far, an impossible task.

  40. Theodore Brandley

    Hi Cowboy,

    I know that Joseph Fielding Smith wrote about that before he became the president of the Church, but I don’t think he confirmed it after. Some years ago I had a personal letter exchange with Elder Neil Maxwell in which I was questioning his scriptural interpretation on a point of doctrine that he had written in one of his books. He did not disagree with my interpretation but told me that he did not have the authority to confirm it definitively, as that could only be done by the president of the Church. I did not bother the president with the issue.

    Theodore

    Cr@ig, you wrote:

    But from every source I can find EVE was created while in the Garden. So how can you say that she had prior knowledge rather than just knowledge of the lone and dreary world?

    The temple account of the creation clarifies this and is very specific that Eve was with Adam when they were led into the Garden of Eden.

    Then we have to deal with the sticky issue of the 100 thousand year human fossil record and a DNA trail that leads back to Africa rather than Missouri.

    On the age of the earth I do not think there is any disagreement between science and revelation. Modern revelation tells us that the earth was created over several periods of indeterminate time.

    On the age of man there is obvious disagreement. Archaeologists generally rely upon C-14 for estimating the age of remains but radiocarbon dating is not an exact, or even a reliable science. There are many unproven assumptions about C-14. First and foremost is the assumption that the amount of C14 in the atmosphere has been constant since day one. This is known not to be true. C-14 in the atmosphere is created by cosmic rays from the sun and changes with sun spots and atmospheric conditions. The percentage of C-14 also varies with the amount of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere. Some re-calibration estimate efforts have been made for the historical period but not beyond that. It also varies with different kinds of animals, and there have been tests on freshly killed animals that dated them several thousand years old. It is not very accurate or reliable. It also appears that C14 in the atmosphere is slowly increasing and has not yet reached equilibrium. This would make everything test older than it actually is. The older it is the more discrepancy. As the decay of C-14 takes it essentially to zero in 50,000 years so I’m not sure how someone has determined human life to be 100 thousand years old?

    At any rate, for me, I have more confidence in revelation than I do in questionable and changing science. The same is true for the DNA trail. I don’t have confidence in the state of the science that anyone can determine that as yet. Next year, or in the next ten years, someone will come up with a new discovery that will change everyone’s opinion.

    The bottom line for me is that I have more confidence in betting my eternal life on revelation from God, than in the changing theories of science.

    Theodore

  41. Cr@ig P@xton

    Sorry Theodore…but you’ve lost all credibility as far as I’m concerned.

    Throwing your red herring argument to discount Carbon-14 dating puts you in the same camp as the evangelical 6,000 year old young earth camp. A group of complete nut cases as far as I’m concerned, who are not interested in the truth at any cost.

    Those familiar with the use of carbon-14 in science to date once living organic life know that they routinely calibrate their findings to adjust for the known issues you raised, such as using other dating techniques. Calibration curves have been constructed using dendrochronological data (tree-ring measurements of bristlecone pines as old as 8,200 years); periglacial varve, or lake sediment, data and, in archaeological research, certain materials of historically established ages can also be used to calibrate the carbon-14 data help science fine-tune the scale.

    Carbon-14 has been found to not only be reliable…but has been substantiated through a multitude of these alternative dating methods.

    Oh and guess who also uses carbon 14 to date many of its archaeological findings….BYU…oh the shame of it using such an unreliable tool of science.

  42. Cowboy

    I believe that the Joseph Fielding Smith reference I was referring to was in “Answers to Gospel Questions”. For me it really doesn’t matter if he was Prophet on the day of the quote. Quite frankly no living Prophet has said anything too remarkable in nearly 100 years. No new doctrines, etc. We have changed a few policies, issued some documents that basically restate our already stated beliefs (Proclamation on the Family, The Living Christ), and have each given a number generally uplifting Christian natured sermons, but that is about it. Which is why I don’t put a lot of stock into responses which either suggest that the Prophet did not declare such and such under a unique set of circumstances, or that they were not Prophet when such and such was said.

    As for carbon dating Theodore, again this is not my expertise, but from what I understand about the inconsistency o of c-14 dating the objections you raise have merit when we are talking about fossils that are hundreds of thousands, or possibly millions of years old. I am not sure that it holds much water when we are talking about tens of thousands of years such as in the case of the early hominids.

  43. Cr@ig P@xton

    Carbon-14 Dating is only credibility on organic material older than 200 years and younger than 50,000 years. After 50,000 years the carbon-14 in the organic material has depleted to the point that placing an age on the material is no longer considered credible.

    I should also note that carbon-14 dating is not reliable to an exact year. Generally it is most credible within + or – 163 years for the first 26,000 years. After this age…it is reliable within 700 + or- years.

  44. Theodore Brandley

    Cr@ig

    I used the radiocarbon dating issue as an example in trying to answer your initial question, “HOW you are able to maintain belief in spite of what I perceive as reality.” By focusing on your defense of radiocarbon you may have missed the answer you were seeking, assuming that you were sincere in your question.

    My answer was that I have more confidence in betting my eternal life on revelation from God, than in the changing theories of science. You, on the other hand appear to have more confidence in the sacredness of science. Everyone is free to worship what they want. (Isn’t that a grand principle? :-) )

    You “perceive as reality” that man existed 100 thousand years ago. I do not perceive that as reality. I do not accept that as an undisputable fact. What you “perceive as reality is not the same as what I perceive as reality. I perceive as reality that Jesus is the Messiah and Joseph Smith Jr. is His prophet who restored the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth, and is the Moses of our day. That is a basis of my perception of reality and everything else is considered from that viewpoint.

    I believe also that there are no contradictions between facts from true revelation and facts from true science. The debate is about what are the facts of true revelation and what are the facts of true science.

    Theodore

  45. Cowboy

    “You, on the other hand appear to have more confidence in the sacredness of science.”

    ??? (Puzzled Smiley Face)

    I think the rest of your comment Theodore sums it up pretty nicely. At some point each of will determine what to believe, and largely so based upon our individual circumstances. The facts are, there is nothing conclusive about this issue, as a negative cannot be proven it can only be implied, and substantiating the divine encounter of a boy Prophet over 180 years ago can likely only be discovered in a personal and individual way.

  46. Theodore Brandley

    Agreed again, Cowboy.

    (The smiley face came from the connection between “Everyone is free to worship what they want,” and the principle stated in the 11th article of faith of the LDS Church.)

  47. Cowboy

    Sorry, Theodore you caught me being lazy. I haven’t wanted to learn how to make the smiley faces appear, so I just type it in and let people imagine that it was there. I was raising an eyebrow to the subtle jab in quotes.

  48. Cr@ig P@xton

    Theodore Said: assuming that you were sincere in your question.

    The implication is that if I disagree with some of your argument I must not have been sincere in my question?

    For what it’s worth…I would very much like to believe in Mormonism again…if I found its many claims to be credible. The problem (for me) is that I find many of its claims not based in reality. (My perception).
    Theodore, with all due respect (and I sincerely appreciate your perspective) you are somehow able to place a greater trust in the teachings of the LDS church and its leaders than I am. ( a position I once held) I have lost all trust in these men…and thus discount any entitlement to authority they may claim. I no longer put my trust in the claims of the LDS church or its leaders…because I have found them to no longer be trustworthy.

    To me, the claims of the LDS church must explain (in an intelligent manner) these questions like the conflict between science and their religious claims, not make them a matter of faith. Either man has existed in his present form for 100,000 years or he has not. Science says YES, Mormonism says NO. Which claim is more credible? You find the LDS claim more credible…I find science’s claim more credible.

    Another example: When the Book of Mormon claims that a bronze aged civilization existed somewhere in the America’s before Columbus and science says that none existed…I simple find Science more credible with their evidence…and you find the church’s claims, despite little to no evidence, to be more credible.

    Science follows the evidence… adjusts and YES changes to accommodate the evidence/science. Mormonism simple denies or ignores conflicting evidence because it has already concluded that it already has the answer to the question before the question is even asked. At least that is my perspective.

  49. Theodore Brandley

    Cr@ig

    When the Book of Mormon claims that a bronze aged civilization existed somewhere in the America’s before Columbus and science says that none existed…I simple find Science more credible with their evidence…and you find the church’s claims, despite little to no evidence, to be more credible.

    On the contrary, I see tons of evidence for the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, beginning with the fact that it even exists. There is a plethora of scholarly evidence that it is a translation of an ancient document. As for the current archeological belief that such an advanced civilization did not exist in America before Columbus, my personal investigation into the evidence leads me to believe they are simply wrong. I spent 3 years investigating the geographical claims of the Book of Mormon and found that it fits perfectly into the continent of North America, with corresponding archeological sites for most of the cities and all of described terrain.

    Science follows the evidence… adjusts and YES changes to accommodate the evidence/science. Mormonism simple denies or ignores conflicting evidence because it has already concluded that it already has the answer to the question before the question is even asked. At least that is my perspective.

    Mormonism is founded upon evidence. Read again the testimony of the eleven credible witnesses who saw and handled the gold plates. We sometimes disagree with the interpretation of scientific evidence, but so do many scientists. As you have pointed out much of it is subject to change and to reinterpretation.

    Latter-day Saints rely first and foremost on the witness directly from God. One cannot have a greater witness than a witness from God. That is more sure than a witness through the eyes or the ears. A witness from God is real, undeniable powerful evidence. And, yes, if that evidence from God conflicts with the scientific theory of the day, which would you expect we would follow?

    Theodore

  50. Cowboy

    “Mormonism is founded upon evidence. Read again the testimony of the eleven credible witnesses who saw and handled the gold plates.”

    ? (again, puzzled smiley face)

    Yes the book of Mormon presents two affidavits signed by three and eight men, which bares testimony to having been witnesses of the plates. On the other hand, in all probability Joseph Smith was the recorder text to their witnesses. Many of the men tell versions of their experience which seem contradictory of the signed testimony, and there is more than enough data to suggest that while it is not necesarrily a given that each or any where completely or partially dishonest, an as matter of fact stamp of “credibility” is not justified. They are questionable witnesses best, and then yes Theodore, you along with God (or Joseph Smith, whichever it may be) to Oliver Cowdrey are correct, “What greater witness can you have, than from God”.

  51. Theodore Brandley

    Cowboy, you sound like a lawyer for the prosecution. ;-)

    It is irrelevant whether Joseph wrote the testimony or not, they all signed it and agreed to its publication. None of them ever denied it, even on their death beds and even when it would have been publicly advantageous for them to do so. The fact that some of them gave a slightly different version later is normal for each to remember a shared experience slightly differently, and is a further testimony that it was not a memorized conspiracy. I stand by my description of them as credible witnesses. Their combined testimonies, and the character of the testifiers, meet all the criteria for being credible witnesses in any court in America.

    Theodore

  52. Cowboy

    I don’t know that it would have ever been to publicly advantageous for co-conspirators to a religious hoax to volunteer their dishonesty. The problem with Joseph Smith writing the “testimonies” is that the whole point was for each of these men to bare witness to what they experienced. There is also a level of inconsistency as to whether the eight witnesses actually saw the plates, or just hefted the box that they were supposedly and therefore knew of a surety that the plates must be in there. David Whitmers testimony is one of the most bizarre, not being able to differentiate as to whether he had a vision, or whether it was real. Suffice it to say, none of the men made an official statement that they were part of a hoax, but most of them told versions of the experience which are not flattering to the testimony that bares their name.

    David Whitmer puts a stake through his testimony in his pamphlet “an address to all believers in Christ”, by stating that if you are going to accept that vision which gave him assurance of the Gold Plates, then you must also accept that that same spirit told him (David Whitmer) that he must separate himself from the official body of Mormons in 1838 because they had fallen into apostasy. So, the point is, when you put all of this into context, it is insufficient to keep recycling the old tired argument that none of these men ever denied their witness (even on their death beds), because what they did do is just as problematic for the Church if they would have denied their testimony – unless you hold Mormon beliefs akin to break off groups such as those founded by David Whitmer.

  53. Cr@ig P@xton

    Theordore Said: Mormonism is founded upon evidence. Read again the testimony of the eleven credible witnesses who saw and handled the gold plates.

    Oh Theordore…how I’d love to get one of your credible witnesses on the stand. My first question to Martin Harris would be… Mr. Harris is it true that you once claimed to have seen Jesus in the shape of a deer and walked and talked with him for two or three miles?

    Yes…Mormonism is full of credible witnesses…

  54. Cowboy

    Craig:

    If that claim is true, then you may rest your case. However that claim is from second hand memory several years after the Martin Harris was to have said that. He was however notorious for espousing fantastic notions.

    I would like to know what Joseph Smith’s (and company) position was on treasure seeking during his Prophet years. In other words, did he still claim to have been visited by the spirits of undisclosed treasure (I’m not talking about Moroni here).

  55. Cr@ig P@xton

    Cowboy,

    Yes I am well aware that that statement attributed to Martin Harris was second hand…and that is why I stated the question in the manner that I did. I’d put Martin Harris himself on the stand and ask him if the statement attributed to him was in fact true.

    I just don’t think that you can put the words “Credible and 11 [Mormon] witnesses” together in the same sentence. There is enough first hand information available to discredit the credibility of many of the men who claimed to “see and touch”.

  56. Cowboy

    “I just don’t think that you can put the words “Credible and 11 [Mormon] witnesses” together in the same sentence. There is enough first hand information available to discredit the credibility of many of the men who claimed to “see and touch”.”

    Agreed.

  57. Theodore Brandley

    Cowboy wrote:

    David Whitmers testimony is one of the most bizarre, not being able to differentiate as to whether he had a vision, or whether it was real.

    Visions from God are still real. Apparently sometimes one is not able to tell the whether they are still in a mortal state when they receive the vision:

    And whether they were in the body or out of the body, they could not tell; for it did seem unto them like a transfiguration of them, that they were changed from this body of flesh into an immortal state, that they could behold the things of God.” (3 Ne 28:15)
    “The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell.” D&C 137:1

    The possibility that David Whitmer could not differentiate whether this was a physical or spiritual experience does not discredit his testimony that it was a real experience.
    In David Whitmer’s pamphlet that you cite, the use of his testimony of the plates to justify his apostasy is a discredit to him. However, compared to this one statement are seventy two other statements over the rest of his live reaffirming his testimony of seeing the gold plates (Lyndon W. Cook ed., David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness (Grandin Book Company, 1993).

    When a Missouri mob tarred and feathered David Whitmer and others and aimed their guns at him and told him to deny the Book of Mormon he raised his hands and bore testimony to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. David Whitmer is a very credible witness.

    Other than your own opinions, neither you nor Cr@ig have presented sufficient concrete evidence that would nullify the testimonies of any of the eleven testifiers. Please note also that the testimony of only two or three would be sufficient evidence.

    Theodore

  58. Cr@ig P@xton

    Theodore, there is enough gun powder on both sides of this issue to support both your belief and my lack thereof. I wish it wasn’t so.

    Oh how I wish the witnesses were as credible as you claim. But the reality remains, the church teaches a polished version of the lives of these 11 men, leaving out many inconvenient details, in order to leave an impression with its membership of how they wished events had happened rather than how they actually did happen. They do this in order to promote faith and belief.

  59. Cowboy

    Theodore:

    You are now making my case. I have stated that there is nothing of which I am aware that would conclusively “nullify” the witnesses testimony. I recognize that fact and stand by my points. You on the other hand have made a case that because David Whitmer did not deny The Book of Mormon when his life was threatened, he must be credible. While this is a fascinating story, I don’t think that it leaves us with the single possibility that David Whitmer was being honest. You infact note yourself that his religious convictions with regard to his apostasy are a discredit to him. The same God that spoke to him on the day he claims to have witnessed the plates, he claims also told him that he must leave the Church and that they were in apostasy – yet another published testimony of David Whitmer.

    Regarding the literalness of the experience, the story is advocated today as though the experience were literal and that an Angel attended to demonstrate the plates. It also begs the question of why would a “vision” of the plates be necessary when an actual demonstration of the plates, physically, would be more convincing. This is even more problematic given that the eight witnesses were supposedly given the oppurtunity to hold the plates literally and turn it’s pages. Lastly when you read David Whitmers last interview regarding the matter, it comes accross very confusing. How hard would be to say, “Yes, an angel came out of heaven and showed us the plates” or “Our minds were opened up to a vision, and in that vision we saw an angel and heard the voice of God”. A final problem with the idea of a vision is that a vision is an individual experience, yet three men signed their names to one affidavit. As an experience which could be shared, such as a literall visitation from angels in the flesh, one affidavit with three signatures would be appropriate. Three individual visions, two if want to make a case for a shared vision, it would seem that each occurence would require it’s own statement. So, perhaps not a total proof against the claims, however there is room to scratch our heads enough to say that these claims are not quite slam dunks, such as how you suggest.

    There is also the matter of the witnesses. David Whitmer we have already addressed.

    Oliver Cowdrey is officially on record saying absolutely nothing. There is some speculation as to whether he was actively promoting the idea that his testimony was false. This matter is addressed disdainfully of in a “Times and Seasons article” where he is compared to Peter, regarding his denial of The Christ. I would have to dig up the refernce, but I can if you would like.

    Martin Harris was considered generally honest, but those who knew him considered his views as extreme, and even noted him as a person susceptible to “seeing spooks”, is the description I believe.

    Joseph Smith would hire out as a fortune teller of sorts, who would use a stone found while digging a well to contact the spirits of deceased treasure guardians. He would lead groups around the woods based on superstious impressions to mystical treasures. It should also be noted that this same stone was used to translate substantial portions of The Book of Mormon, based on David Whitmers account, and by some accounts may have even served as a medium for facilitating the three witnesses experience.

    The eight witnesses where all members of either Joseph Smiths family, or David Whitmers. Certainly raises the stakes for colusion, or at least duress. Secondly, there are claims extant which suggest that very thing, that the affidavit was signed under pressure. There are also other versions which suggest that the handling of plates was not quite the experience alluded to in the witness signed that describes said events.

    All in all, again nothing conclusive here. But again, that goes both ways. None of this brings a smoking gun to the table which absolutely demonstrates a fraud. It does, however, raise the level of reasonable skepticism to a point where laying an as matter of fact seal of credibility is not justified.

  60. Theodore Brandley

    Cowboy,

    When a being from the unseen world appears to a mortal or mortals that is a vision as understood by Joseph Smith Jr. and associates. Some examples are John the Baptist appearing to Joseph and Oliver and laying his hands on their heads, or when Moses and others appeared to Joseph and Oliver in the Kirtland Temple and committed the keys of the gathering of Israel, which would also have been done by the laying on of hands. These are real physical experiences not just something that occurs in one’s mind, and the appearance of the angelic being may well be to more than one person at time. As Moroni had the plates back in his charge at the times of the witnessing he had to appear with the plates. The plates were physically there; Moroni was physically there. Some of the witnesses (but not necessarily all of them) physically handled the plates.

    As in any case where witnesses are called to testify there are those who will believe them and there are those who will not. Any lawyer worth his salt can create, as you say, a “reasonable skepticism” in the reliability of any witness in the minds of the jurors.

    To my mind the eleven witnesses are credible. I believe their testimonies. It fits into all the other historical circumstances surrounding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, which, after many years of studying it, I am absolutely convinced that it is a translation of an ancient document and that it is the word of God to the people of our day.

    I also understand people who do not believe these things. I understand your “reasonable skepticism.” This testimony I have is a rare possession and is a gift from God. The only way that anyone can know these sacred things are true is by personal revelation. As you have pointed out, the things of God cannot be proven or disproven solely by the reason of men.

    All the best to you, and to Cr@ig.

    Theodore

  61. Seth R.

    “Oh how I wish the witnesses were as credible as you claim.”

    You know Craig… somehow, I don’t think you do.

  62. Cowboy

    By the way Theodore, your comparison of comments to a lawyer who would “create” a reasonable skepticism isn’t very impressive. Particularly when the witnesses themselves created this skepticism about themselves. I might argue as a corallary that any religious advocate worth their salt will be honest enough to recognize where there faith has merit, and where has weaknesses. This does not require a person to abandon their faith, but just be open enough to recognize that the evidence isn’t as concrete as they would like. Hence, defending the three and eight witnesses as an unimpeachable body.

  63. Theodore Brandley

    Cowboy,

    Since we have been discussing the validity of the testimony of the witnesses I think the legal analogy is quite appropriate and I do not accept your premise that the witnesses created their own skepticism. The only evidence you presented against the witnesses that in my opinion has any merit was David Whitmer’s pamphlet and I recognized and acknowledged that. You, on the other hand are ignoring the other seventy two recorded statements over the rest of his live reaffirming his testimony of seeing the gold plates. His one misuse of his testimony strikes him out for you. Also, you are ignoring the majority of the witnesses for whom you have no contrary evidence. To your credit, you did recognize that the ridiculous accusation against Martin Harris about seeing Jesus in the form of a deer was hearsay and recorded several years after the Martin Harris was to have said it. However, other than mentioned above you have not presented any concrete evidence that would discount the validity of the witnesses. If I believe someone in my church has done wrong I will readily admit it, but I have not seen any compelling evidence to that effect with these eleven witnesses.

    These eleven men are witnesses of the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ. These eleven men are therefore special witnesses of Jesus Christ. I am honored to be able to say a few simple words in their defense.

    Theodore

  64. Steve G.

    This has been a fun conversation. I haven’t had the time or necessarily the insight to respond to some of the comments. A few comments that stood out to me and I would like to give my input to are when Craig said:

    “Science follows the evidence… adjusts and YES changes to accommodate the evidence/science. Mormonism simple denies or ignores conflicting evidence because it has already concluded that it already has the answer to the question before the question is even asked. At least that is my perspective.”

    That is not how I see things; it is true that we hold the scriptures to be inspired and that we believe in some core revealed truths. My observation is that different individuals have received different insights from those truths. I believe what Joseph Smith said that we should “follow the majority of the council of the twelve” and what Bruce R. McConkie said we should “stay in the main stream of the Church”. I love Elder McConkie and am re-reading his series on the Messiah but I do not need to accept every thing he says as scripture. He changed his own mind on some things and came to different conclusions on other things than Elder Talmage did in his great work like for example when the Savior was born.

    On Evolution and science, you admitted that they use carbon 14 data at BYU and in other church schools. My first 2 years in collage where at the “Y”, in the biology class I took and the smaller discussion group I joined we discussed evolution pretty extensively and the professor was an advocate of it and still teaches there and he had a testimony of the restored gospel. A book that I enjoyed reading was “The Way, The Truth and The Live” by B.H. Roberts. I am sure you have read it. It was very good in and of its self, but I really enjoyed the foot notes and what it said about the discussions between Eder Roberts and Elders Joseph Fielding Smith and the leadership of the church. The First Presidency came away from that discussion saying that not enough had been revealed by the Lord to take an official stand. We are not a stagnate faith. We have many intelligent Latter-day Saints who are involved in the sciences as well as all other fields. I believe what Joseph Smith said that the Lord will yet reveal many great and important things. In my oppinion the Church is more perfect today than ever before because of that continued revelation and that the future will be even brighter.

    As far as the witness are concerned I am not up on everything but I enjoyed a book called, “Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses” by Richard Lloyd Anderson. I am sure you have read that one also. I thought he did some good research and the witnesses came way pretty credible to me. That is not what I base my testimony of the Book of Mormon on thought. My testimony comes from spending many years reading it and trying to conform my life to its teachings. I am sure I don’t do a spectacular job of it, but through my efforts I have come to know that the book is true. Love you guy’s and hope you are having a good life.

  65. Cowboy

    Fair enough Theodore, I don’t think we can go much further from here. Suffice it to say we haven’t convinced one another, you feel that I have not made a sufficient case to completely disqualify the witnesses – with some reservation I agree. On the other hand you seem to feel that you have made a strong defense for the credibility of these men, to which I disagree. Infact, all you have really stated is that David Whitmer didn’t back down with gun in his face, and that Oliver Cowdrey maintained his position on his death bed – in the company of David Whitmer, in Martin Harris’s home. Just a few point’s in response to your last comment, and you can have the last word if you choose (which I will of course read, and as always try to consider).

    1) To beat a dead horse, yes Martin Harris did create his own skepticism by his comments in “An Address to All Believers in Christ”. Joseph Smith, for the record, also declared following the excommunication of the Three Witnesses, that each was a liar – regarding allegations made against the Prophet – so can we rely on the witness of liars?

    2) David Whitmers feelings regarding the apostasy of the mainstream Church were not limited to one comment made in history. He was quite emphatic about that point until his death. I am sure the number of times he mentioned this fact matches the 72 in defense of The Book of Mormon. Secondly your ratio of David Whitmer defenses of The Book of Mormon to his quote in his pamphlet is besides the point anyway. David Whitmer remained an advocate of The Book of Mormon his entire life, he just claims that he had an experience akin to his witness of The Book of Mormon where God revealed that the Church was in apostasy. So if you throw that claim out, then you ought to question his claim to having seen an angel. In other words, he’s not a good witness.

    3) The alleged quote that Martin Harris claims to have talked with Jesus in the form of a deer is ridiculous, but not entirely falsifiable. It’s just not substantiatable so in fairness you can’t hold that against him. He was however notorious for being superstitios.

    4) My objection to your law comparison was regarding the accusation that I am creating – embellishing – this position. Theodore I have witnessed a few occasion where you have been accused of the same thing by your fellow believers. I referring to theories you have espoused regarding BOM geography. It’s not polite, and I didn’t write David Whitmers pamphlet.

    5) I raised a legitimate issue on each of the witnesses. Not all are as strong, I realize that, but your decision to just outright reject everything – you have even basically rejected outright the solid objection regarding DW – comes across more as an attempt to defend than to try and see eye to eye.

  66. Cowboy

    Retraction:

    I wish there was an edit feature of FAIR. I thought I would quickly check a fact that I became unsure on. Oliver Cowdrey died in David Whitmers home, not Martin Harris’s. I seem to recall that all three witnesses were present for this occasion, does this sound incorrect to anyone? A brief seach on the internet doesn’t seem to address this, I will try and find out. In any case, Oliver’s death bed affirmation of The Book of Mormon is recorded by David Whitmer. I am not certain that Martin Harris witnessed this. Sorry for the oversight.

  67. Cowboy

    While we disagree Theodore, I respect you and your views as well. Best of luck to you.

  68. Steven Danderson Post author

    Hi guys!

    Sorry for the delay; I’ve been finishing up classes before summer!

    I plan on using another blog post to address some issues raised. However, I have some observations here:

    1. Jeff, why not just work with the LDS where interests converge, and staying apart from them where they do not? That is what we LDS do in the “Bible Belt”.

    Frankly, I fail to see where you have any more right to demand that the LDS change its doctrines than we do to demand that Evangelical or Fundamentalist Churches change theirs.

    2. Cowboy, I would say that the LDS mirror image of anti-Mormons are those who understand the Great and Abominable Church of the Devil to include all non-members. I don’t personally know anybody who fits this profile, but I know OF some. I must say, though, that these people betray a gross ignorance of II Nephi 28:14.

    3. One thing I’ve observed, is that many of those who scream the loudest about our use of the term, “anti-Mormon” feel no qualm about using the phrase, “non-Christian Satanic cult” to describe us.

    4. Cr@ig P@xton and others, I must remind you that it is those who think we’re wrong that bear the burden of proof when trying to entice us to leave Mormonism. That means that WE get to decide who is credible and who is not. Conversely, when our missionaries preach the Gospel, it is those missionaries that are required to demonstrate that the Church is true–or at least provide a means where people can find out.

  69. Cowboy

    Steve:

    I would be interested to know what venues you frequent, where the prevailing attitude is to take offense at being labled “Anti-Mormon”, but have no reservation against calling the Church a “non-Christian Satanic Cult”. From my experience, those who portray the Church as either a cult or a branch of Satanism have no objections in bearing the label “Anti-Mormon”. Many in that camp see the reference as a positive.

    As a note, both Craig P@xton and I have been challenging your usage here, and neither he or I have stated anything even remotely close to what your coment (#3) is suggesting?

  70. Steven Danderson Post author

    Cowboy said,

    I would be interested to know what venues you frequent, where the prevailing attitude is to take offense at being labled “Anti-Mormon”, but have no reservation against calling the Church a “non-Christian Satanic Cult”.

    Cowboy, I live in the US South–the famed “Bible Belt.” Some Evangelicals (including preachers) have demanded that I “fess up” to being a non-Chrisitan cultist–after I made it clear that I confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. When I asked them to define “Chrisitan” and “cultist,” they took offence, telling me that they don’t want to start a fight–all the while completely oblivious to the fact that they used “fighting words” to effectively accuse me of lying about my testimony of the Saviour. Other Evangelicals go further than this–to the extent of accusing me of swearing “death oaths” of fealty to Satan.

    You said,

    From my experience, those who portray the Church as either a cult or a branch of Satanism have no objections in bearing the label “Anti-Mormon”. Many in that camp see the reference as a positive.

    EVERY ONE of these people I spoke of above took offence at the label, “anti-Mormon,” exclaiming words to the effect of, “I’m not anti-Mormon; I LOVE Mormons!”

    Somehow, their profession of “love” rings hollow, in light of repeated misrepresentations of my faith.

    You said,

    As a note, both Craig P@xton and I have been challenging your usage here, and neither he or I have stated anything even remotely close to what your coment (#3) is suggesting?

    I haven’t the foggiest why.

    I don’t know you, and, to my knowledge, you haven’t done anything that would fit you as an anti-Mormon. Thus, I think it wrong to accuse you of being an anti-Mormon, and I do not recall ever doing so.

    Hence, it wasn’t directed at you. It is merely my observation of the behaviour of many, if not most anti-Mormons of my acquaintence.

    If, on the other hand, you HAVE done something that betrays anti-Mormonism, you may wish to ask yourself why my comments “come too close to home”–and adjust your behaviour.

  71. Cowboy

    Steve, I have spent considerable time in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and little in Michigan – all basically within the famed “bible-belt” area you are referring to. My experience has been quite different from yours. I have met many pastors, even in the last few years, and spoken to them about Mormonism. Among those that would so cavelierly declare us to be a Satanic cult, bearing the the “Anti-Mormon” moniker was no big deal – infact, they often times see it as a positive. Generally those who would take offense at being called “Anti-Mormon” are not so abrasive in their interactions with me. They will often debate as to whether or not we are Christian, but for them that is generally an academic debate, to which even President Hinckley has suggested he agrees. In their minds our perspectives on Christianity are so radical, that we really belong in a class of our own. As a side note, there are those (Bushman) who agree with this sentiment, and suggest that Mormonism actually represents a fourth Abrahamic religion.

  72. Steven Danderson Post author

    Cowboy says:

    Steve, I have spent considerable time in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and little in Michigan – all basically within the famed “bible-belt” area you are referring to.

    Agreed. I was born in Indiana, and grew up (mostly) in the Chicago area.

    My experience has been quite different from yours. I have met many pastors, even in the last few years, and spoken to them about Mormonism.

    Did you initiate the conversation about Mormonism, or did they? The ones I referred to in my post approached me.

    Among those that would so cavelierly declare us to be a Satanic cult, bearing the the “Anti-Mormon” moniker was no big deal – infact, they often times see it as a positive.

    How did you define the term, though?

    Generally those who would take offense at being called “Anti-Mormon” are not so abrasive in their interactions with me. They will often debate as to whether or not we are Christian, but for them that is generally an academic debate, to which even President Hinckley has suggested he agrees. In their minds our perspectives on Christianity are so radical, that we really belong in a class of our own.

    Certainly not more radical than, say, the Unitarians! ;)

    The standard definition of a Christian is one who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. I don’t mind (MUCH! ;) ) when people say that we’re so radically different from historical, orthodox Christianity–we’re NOT “orthodox!”–my ire gets raised whenever this “academic speculation” becomes an implication that I am NOT truthful when I say that Jesus Christ is Lord.

    That accusation of lying simply brings dialogue to a swift end! :-o

    As a side note, there are those (Bushman) who agree with this sentiment, and suggest that Mormonism actually represents a fourth Abrahamic religion.

    Shipps, too. ;)

    I may blog about this later. For now, let me say that I’m not sure that we’re so radical that we are as separate from Christians as Christians are separate from Jews. While the Jews view Deity as some Wholly Other Entity that must not even be named, Christians view Him as the Man Jesus Christ [Romans 5:15; see also I Timothy 2:5].

    Somehow, viewing Jesus Christ as having a “spirit brother” doesn’t strike me as radical as changing a view of God from an Entirely Superior Kind of Being to that of an acknowledged Human! ;)

  73. Cowboy

    Fair enough Steve. To be quite honest, I don’t know that I personally agree with the notion that Mormonism represents fourth Abrahamic faith, I just mentioned this point to suggest that from an “academic” perspective, even our leading scholars agree that we are very different from orthodox Christianity. That being said, I personally see Mormonism as an offshoot of Christianity, since as you mention, Jesus Christ in a Christian context (albeit, unique) is the central theme to the Church.

    Having been in similar situations where someone insists upon my not believing in Jesus Christ myself, I understand why you take offense at that. What bothers me about those coversations is that I feel like I am talking to a wall because nothing I can say penetrates.

    As far as this conversation goes Steve, I think I’ve said about all that I can say. While I won’t pretend to know exactly what your interactions have been, having had similar experiences to what you mention (speaking with clergy about Mormonism in the mid-west), I can’t say that I have had any experiences that would support your claims.

  74. Cr@ig P@xton

    Steve Danderson Said: Cr@ig P@xton and others, I must remind you that it is those who think we’re wrong that bear the burden of proof when trying to entice us to leave Mormonism. That means that WE get to decide who is credible and who is not. Conversely, when our missionaries preach the Gospel, it is those missionaries that are required to demonstrate that the Church is true–or at least provide a means where people can find out.

    Cr@ig’s Response: Steve I could care less whether you remain an active Mormon or not. I have no desire what so ever to convince you that Mormonism is not what it claims to be. If you are able to bend your brain into a pretzel to make the many twisted pieces of Mormonism work for you…I’m actually happy for you. I wish I could do the same.

    You’re a better man than me for I am just not able to justify, excuse, discount, ignore, suspend or mold all the many conflicting pieces of the LDS faith paradigm to make it a remotely believable religion. To me, it is just a mass of cognitive dissonance.

    Much like the little Dutch boy trying to plug all the leaks in the dike with his finger…as soon as he plugs one hole…another spouts forth. The Mormon faith paradigm is not reconcilable with its own doctrines, established history and science.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the institution that claims to be the one and only true church on the face of the earth. Contrary to your assertion, I believe it is the Mormon Church that carries the burden of proof to explain away why it’s so called reality does not sync with established reality. Only in an alternative universe does Mormonism make any sense.

  75. Steven G.

    Hi Craig, I think I can understand what you are saying though I don’t see all the conflict that you see. To me there are many more witness to God than there are against Him. I find the miracle of the human personality to be one of the great physical evidence of the existence of a creator. I know that I can not prove my feelings or beliefs to anyone. I remember sitting in a psychology class and we were studying how it was possible for us as humans to carrie on a conversation for 5 minutes let alone be a person over time and science really did have very little hard facts of how we exist as persons over time. I have worked in jails and mental hospitals and am aware of the problems that us humans have, but still when you take into consideration that there our 6 billion plus of us to me that is a miracle. I know that everything cannot be explained that has to do with my faith but neither can it be explained by science. To me there just is not that big of a conflict between what I see and feel and believe. I love you though guy.

  76. Cowboy

    Steve:

    For what it is worth, I can completely agree with and respect comments like your recent one to Craig.

  77. Steven Danderson

    Hi Cowboy!

    You said,

    Having been in similar situations where someone insists upon my not believing in Jesus Christ myself, I understand why you take offense at that. What bothers me about those coversations is that I feel like I am talking to a wall because nothing I can say penetrates.

    Yes, it IS a pain in the neck [and a couple of feet south! ;) ] to have others tell you that THEY know you better than you know yourself! :/

    It is THOSE people that have the “Mormon Derangement Syndrome!”

    While I won’t pretend to know exactly what your interactions have been, having had similar experiences to what you mention (speaking with clergy about Mormonism in the mid-west), I can’t say that I have had any experiences that would support your claims.

    While it is unusual that we have had different experiences with anti-Mormons, it does NOT follow that one of us must be wrong. As Colin Bruce has Sherlock Holmes telling Watson, events with a 1% chance of happening actually DO occur–one percent of the time! ;)

    I suspect, though, that many of those who self-identify as “anti-Mormon” might more appropriately be classified as “unbelievers in LDS theology.” Such people who make no bones about their belief that our theology is deficient, but make no attempt to undermine the faith of believers qualify as “anti-Mormon” only in the most peripheral, abstract manner.

    Frankly, I would shy away from such usage of the term, “anti-Mormon,” and, I’m told, so would my FAIR and FARMS colleagues. FAIR and FARMS are apologetic groups; that is, we are to DEFEND the faith. To defend against those who will not attack is a waste of time and resources. Moreover, to include those who aren’t attacking with those who are provokes unnecessary additional warfare, and, because the “enemy” is larger in size, that war is harder to win. This, too, is an unconscionable waste in resources–and outright sin.

    As a parallel, if we were to define ALL Protestants as “anti-Catholics”–and vice versa, because each group firmly disbelieves in the truth-claims of the other, we would have a replay of (literally) centuries of warfare. This would make us quite vulnerable to either secularistic dictator-wannabes, who would lead us into increasingly lethal military adventurism, or to a new Dark Age, ruled by a particularly virulent form of militant Islam–or both, as happened in Europe.

    I also suspect that the type of anti-Mormon that engage those of us at FAIR may actually believe–or give that impression–that they are trying to save us from ourselves.

    I only wish that they would NOT have such a reckless disregard for truth in their attempts! :/

    Pax vobiscum!

  78. Steven Danderson

    Cr@ig says:

    I could care less whether you remain an active Mormon or not. I have no desire what so ever to convince you that Mormonism is not what it claims to be.

    Then why did you storm onto my Fun House Mirrors [http://www.fairblog.org/2009/04/11/fun-house-mirrors/] entry defending an anti-Mormon diatribe designed to entice people to leave (or evade) the LDS faith?

    Frankly, Sir, I fail to see why somebody who is uninterested in whether we stay in the faith would do that.

    As I recall, you said that you WERE LDS. That was why I reminded you of the fact that the burden of proof is on those who would lead us FROM the faith. It is evident in your statement, “I believe it is the Mormon Church that carries the burden of proof to explain away why it’s so called reality does not sync with established reality.” That might be so–if I were a missionary bringing a Gospel message to non-believers. But for anti-Mormons to go to members and demand them to prove the Church true to ANTI-MORMONS’ satisfaction or leave the Church is tantamount to putting “innocent until proven guilty” on its head.

    That, coupled with anti-Mormon determination to NOT accept any answer we give–even before grilling us–strikes me as a “kangaroo court.”

    From what you wrote, you seem to be a victim of such a kangaroo court!

    If you are able to bend your brain into a pretzel to make the many twisted pieces of Mormonism work for you…I’m actually happy for you. I wish I could do the same.

    You presuppose–wrongly–that I twist my mind. As a “quant jock,” I am required to keep my mind straight and UNtwisted.
    ;)

    It is easy, I reckon, to come to the conclusion that Mormonism is all mixed up, if I were to just listen to anti-Mormon convoluted reasoning–and not ask questions. It is those who attack Mormonism who are required to connect all of the dots! ;)

    You’re a better man than me for I am just not able to justify, excuse, discount, ignore, suspend or mold all the many conflicting pieces of the LDS faith paradigm to make it a remotely believable religion. To me, it is just a mass of cognitive dissonance.

    It is only complicated if I were to unquestioningly take the anti-Mormon spin at face value. If THEY cannot make an intelligible case, I view it as NOT my problem! ;)

Comments are closed.