Book of Mormonisms

Did they really say THAT?

Mormonism Get Thee Behind Me

Posted by skiutah on Friday, April 30, 2010

I, SkiUtah, having been born of goodly parents, was raised a true believing, fifth generation Mormon. My ancestors were close friends with Joseph Smith and had crossed the plains to Utah with Brigham Young. I was baptized a Mormon at eight years of age, ordained with the priesthood at twelve, earned an Eagle scout award, and served a Mormon mission at nineteen. I was later married in a Mormon temple, graduated from Brigham Young University, and have served in numerous leadership positions within the Mormon church.

While at BYU, I concluded that Mormonism was not for me. There were many aspects of the religion that didn’t make any sense and didn’t feel right. So I decided to leave the Mormon church.

The reaction from my family and friends was to ostracize, avoid, shun, ridicule, criticize, and so on. One family member promised me that I would be doomed to a wicked life full of misery. Family and friends repeatedly asked:

* Who hurt your feelings?
* What commandment couldn’t you keep?
* What anti-Mormon material did you read?

I replied “none of the above”, when I decided to leave Mormonism, I was a member in full standing and had no ill feelings towards anybody in the church. I had simply determined that I didn’t think the Mormon church was true and was leaving.

Mormons claim the privilege of worshiping God according to their own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. I have found that not to be the case. Mormons are infuriated when somebody departs the fold. When a Mormon decides to leave the LDS church, church members react with disgust, ridicule, rejection, contempt, shunning, and so on. I was told that there would be a special place in hell reserved for me, as I had once been a Mormon believer but now was not.

Do the previous reactions sound like the actions of members of the only true church of God? Or more what you would expect from a frail, sophomoric, and weak-minded organization?

Asking Mormons questions
The one true church of God should be able to withstand a few questions, right? Anybody who asks questions (that are perceived as negative) or criticizes the church in anyway is met with the following:

* Why do you persecute us?
* Why do you mock us?
* Why are you tearing down the church?

The one true religion should have a “bring it on” attitude, not a “don’t ask questions about our answers or you’re anti-Mormon and full of hate.”

When Mormons point out facts that undermine other religions, it’s called “truth”. However, when somebody points out facts that challenge the Mormon religion, it’s called “persecution”, “unfair”, “tearing down our religion”, “anti-Mormon”, and so on.

Is the prior behavior you would expect from an enlightened, beacon-to-the-world, inspired of God, one true church on Earth? Or weak, insecure, hollow, shallow, and not able to withstand even the smallest amount of feedback?

Mormons responding to questions
Mormons are good at deriving explanations for questionable events or teachings. These explanations seem plausible to Mormons but often do not make any sense to the larger population. When questioned about their explanations, Mormons often respond with one of the following techniques:

* Ad hominem, name calling, attacking the person delivering the message.
* You don’t need to know that now, you’ll find out in the next life.
* I pray that the Lord will soften your heart.
* You just need to have faith.
* Use unsubstantiated statements that they have blindly accepted as truth.
* They know something is true because they feel it is true, regardless of facts.
* Feeling sorry for the person who doesn’t agree with them.

If you disagree with Mormons, you are labeled as full of hatred, bitter, and mean spirited. Is that what you would expect from an educated, enlightened, and God-stimulated culture? Or the answers you would expect from a fragile, dull, and ignorant group of people?

The Emperor’s new clothes approach to truth
The following are some techniques that Mormons use to detect truth:

* A family member or leader tells them something is true, therefore it has to be true.
* They get a feeling inside that tells them it’s true.
* They repeatedly tell themselves and others around them that something is true until everybody sees it the same way.

Instead of relying on facts to form an opinion, they first acquire a belief and attempt to find facts to support the idea, no matter how far-fetched. When you disagree with the truths that they’ve found, you are tearing down their religion, full of hate, and persecuting.

Beehive behavior
Mormons believe they belong to the one true church of Christ. All other churches are wrong. What characteristics would people tend to have that belonged to a religion that contains God’s power and receives direct revelation from God? What traits would true followers of Christ posses? Christ-like behavior would probably include charity, love, forgiveness, judge not, humility, caring, and so on.

Many Mormons claim to have a personal relationship with God, and state that they have been touched by the holy spirit. What behavior would you expect from true followers of Christ?

The Mormon culture — especially in Utah — is obsessed with outward appearances. Mormons quickly judge and label people based on the number of pierced ears, tattoos, facial hair, what they wear, what they do on Sunday, and so on.

Mormons also assume a superior and patronizing attitude towards anybody who smokes, drinks coffee, tea, wine, beer, and so on. They are uber obsessed with these traits. Fornication and thievery are lesser sins than tattoos and drinking tea.

If anything bad happens to a person that doesn’t follow the Mormon rules, then a gleeful “God is punishing you” mind-set surfaces. In this sense, the LDS religion seems to be validated through other humans’ misery.

Is that behavior the product of a God inspired society? Or does it sound judgmental, boorish, self-righteous, and superficial?

Families are forever, conditionally
When my first child was born, my wife’s Mormon parents said they would come for a visit, only if we had the baby blessed in a Mormon church. When we didn’t acquiesce, they didn’t come see their new grandchild.

Mormons know that they are right, and therefore it doesn’t matter how they act, because they are correct. This leads to a smug and condescending attitude towards non-believers.

I feel bad that my children will never know my Mormon family. These folks could have been a positive force in my kids’ lives. They are good people, but have been stripped of common sense by Mormon dogma. How true is a religion that so easily facilitates behavior that divides friends, families, and communities?

Imperfect, yet infallible
Mormons believe that sometimes leaders are human and make mistakes and sometimes a prophet is just speaking as a man. Mormons also believe that their leaders have a direct line of communication with God. Their top leaders are prophets of God, seers, and revelators for the human race.

Ironically, when you suggest that a Mormon leader is human and can make a mistake, Mormons get defensive and bristle with anger. Interestingly, LDS leaders have a long history of dubious and obviously wrong teachings. For example: polygamy, polyandry, green tea is bad for your health, blacks denied the priesthood, humanity originated in Missouri, Indians are Jews, the Book of Abraham, children can make decisions independent of the parents’ opinion at the age of eight, the 3 Nephites, and so on; this would be a very long list in its entirety.

Some of these teachings were in play for decades or over hundred years. You would think that at some point God would step in and give some direction to His one true church. Instead, the Mormon leaders only change doctrine when forced to by society or when new facts are discovered that directly contradict standard Mormon beliefs.

Perhaps God’s thinking was to institute a teaching knowing that it will make Mormons look foolish in a few decades or hundred years, but it’s part of His master plan.

LDS publications gradually morph into anti-Mormon masterpieces
All anti-Mormon topics can be read about in Mormon church publications (sanctioned at one time by the LDS leadership). Ironically, the greatest source of anti-Mormon literature are prior publications from the LDS church (The History of the Church, Book of Abraham, Journal of Discourses, and so on). Many LDS members are unaware of these publications and that they were once revered as God’s word through His Mormon prophet mouthpiece.

A God-inspired religion would fully understand its history and transparently digest the good and bad. However, if you point out some of these bizarre teachings or events to Mormons, they respond with one or more of the following:

* Ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist.
* State that it’s not true without doing any research.
* Use explanations that they’ve been told are true, but are not verifiable or referenced.
* Refuse to believe the material was published by the LDS church.
* State that it’s been taken out of context.
* Say that these were men speaking as men at the time, not speaking for God.

Do those answers sound inspired, strong, and knowledgeable? Or are these responses you would expect from the dreary, feeble, and uninformed?

Booked into religion
I have read the Book of Mormon at least a dozen times from cover to cover. I have prayed intently and sincerely about the Book of Mormon. I never received any type of feeling or thought that led me to believe it was from God. I truly wanted to believe, but never received an answer. True believing Mormons cannot accept this. They tell me there must be something wrong with me or that I was influenced by the devil or that I didn’t try hard enough or wasn’t sincere.

Mormons state “how could Joseph Smith produce a work like the Book of Mormon?” He was an uneducated young man. Well, there are thousands and thousands of published books that are ingenious, unique, and inspiring. Lots of humans are smart and creative.

There are over one billion believers in Islam. Each of these Muslims knows that their religion is absolutely true, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Islam was started by a guy who was visited by an angel. This guy couldn’t read or write, yet he dictated (with the help of God) one of the greatest religious documents ever produced. How is that possible?

There are nearly a billion Catholics who believe that their religion is true. I talked to a Catholic once who had seen the pope perform a service. This Catholic stated “that was the most wonderful feeling that I have ever had in my life, there is no way that the Catholic church is false, because I had such a wonderful feeling that day.”

How does one explain why people believe in various religions? Consider that humans innately have the following traits:

* Tend to believe blindly what their parents, teachers, and leaders tell them.
* Can believe a concept is true based on a feeling regardless of facts.
* Adept at justifying beliefs using flawed logic and absurd reasoning.

According to the Pew Forum, more than 70% of American children follow their parents’ religion (http://religions.pewforum.org/reports). Children are very impressionable and believe without question what their parents teach them. If God wanted humans to find Christ and join the one true religion, why would he create people that nearly always accept whatever religion their parents raise them with?

How does one explain an adult’s belief in superstition? Even if a person is presented with facts that the number 13 is not any more unlucky (or lucky) than any other number, an adult will hold onto the belief that a number is unlucky because that’s what they were taught at an impressionable age.

Bible stories
I have read the Bible from cover to cover. However, I don’t find the Bible very inspiring. Is the Bible really what an all knowing, all powerful, creator of heaven and earth would provide as a guide for the human race? It’s not plausible to me that the Bible comes from God. It is believable that the Bible was produced by uninspired humans who could document aspects of their lives several thousand years ago.

God’s evolving plan
Humans have been on this planet for the last 100,000 or so years. If the purpose of religion is to learn about Christ and accept him, why would God make his one true religion (Mormonism) available to a small fraction of the people that have ever existed?

Many people say they know there is a God and have proof that makes sense to them.
How does one know there is a God? I can only conclude that I don’t know.

Let my people go
Many Mormons state “you can leave the Mormon church but you can’t leave the Mormon church alone.” I left the Mormon church many, many years ago. Yet Mormons have continued to visit my house, send letters in the mail, and pester me and my family. If a person chooses to leave a religion, why doesn’t that religion leave them alone?

Mormon children are immersed in the religion from an early age, and are told over and over again what to believe. This formula is successful for Mormonism (and other religions). When one leaves Mormonism, family and friends become upset and ask themselves “what went wrong, the formula worked on me, why doesn’t it work for them?”

Leaving the hive
Leaving Mormonism has been somewhat painful because some family and friends have ostracized and rejected my wife, children, and me. However, in leaving Mormonism, I feel like the bird that has pecked its way through a shell and has discovered a new world. Life is fulfilling and exhilarating. Once outside the core, one can never truly climb back in.

Advice for Mormons
* That’s great if Mormonism has done wonders for you and brought untold blessings into your life; however, let people who want to stop believing in Mormonism freely leave, let them worship how, where, and what they may.
* You don’t behave better than anybody else on the planet (oftentimes you act worse); obtain some humility, you would do better if you discarded the superior attitude.
* Stop the divisive behavior that results when somebody decides to leave the Mormon church.
* Your answers to questions are often seen as unbelievable and ridiculous to others, even if your answers make total sense to you, and you know and feel you are correct; don’t get offended and attack those that disagree with you; that has the opposite effect of what you want.
* Stop whitewashing your history and become more transparent with your leaders’ historical behavior and teachings. Admit it when the prophets and leaders made/make mistakes. You might initially lose half of your membership, but you’ll be left with a solid core that will form the base for a much stronger and resilient organization for the future.

Taking Mormonism mainstream
Mormons desperately want to be seen as mainstream Christian religion. However, the hard reality is that as long as Mormons keep telling other religions that Mormonism is the only correct religion, then Mormonism will never be accepted as a Christian religion. In this mode, Mormonism will always be a pariah religion.

Here’s a roadmap for growing Mormonism:
* Drop the story about all other religions being wrong. Mormonism is just as wrong/right as any other religion.
* Admit that polygamy was a huge mistake. Remove D&C 132 from LDS canon. Stop allowing Mormon men to be married to multiple women in the temple (if the first wife dies).
* Disavow all the obviously wrong statements from past prophets. Here a just a few small examples: the Garden of Eden is in Missouri, Blacks were at one time unworthy to hold the priesthood, American Indians are descendants from Jews from Israel, God was a Man, Man will become God, Polygamy was ordained of God, baptizing/marrying dead people, God lives near/on Kolob, and so forth. These are just utterly ridiculous beliefs that nobody outside of Mormonism views as being even remotely credible. Just admit these teachings are flat out wrong and these past prophets made mistakes. These teaching served a purpose at one time, but now are just a PR nightmare and drag on growth.
* Marginalize the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, and D&C. At a minimum, toss the Book of Abraham, this is an obvious hoax, many current church members will even admit to this.
* Marginalize Joseph Smith’s role. You don’t realize how bad Joseph Smith looks to people who look at easily verifyable facts. Mormons don’t believe it, but it’s the reality. Focus instead on Jesus in the U.S. and Europe, and then focus on Mohammad if you’re to convert people in the middle east.
* Allow the Public Relations department dictate what a prophesy is. Allow the PR department to vet all talks by prophets, apostles, and general authorities. The PR department seems to be the only group in SLC that understands the above bulleted items.

I bear my testimony and prophesy that if Mormons follow the prior advice, Mormonism will grow at 10x its current rate.

In conclusion
Why is Mormonism the target of so much criticism, ridicule, and mockery? Ponder this, have you ever played sports? Did you ever play against a team that was constantly trash talking and taunting all of the other teams? Pretty soon, everybody is rooting against the trash talking team. Nobody wants to see the trash talking team win; people will always cheer against the arrogant team. It’s human nature.

Mormonism is the trash talking team of religions. Mormons loudly state they have the one true religion, all other religions are wrong. LDS members smugly look down on non-Mormons. Mormons are God’s chosen people and others are not. Mormons don’t care how they deliver the message because they’re right and everybody else is wrong.

Until Mormons stop the condescending behavior, they will continue to be mocked and will never be accepted by other religions and cultures. This superior attitude has gotten them into trouble with other groups since the inception of the church. The problem is, LDS members inside the Mormon bubble can’t see their holier-than-thou demeanor and the consequential emotions it evokes from those outsiders who witness it.

Mormons don’t view their behavior as hurtful. The LDS community isn’t capable of fixing the bad behavior because there is no concept of introspection or humility. And why would there be? After all, God guides the Mormon church… and this is the same God that told Mormons that polygamy was a new and everlasting covenant, that Blacks are unworthy to hold God’s priesthood, all American Indians are descendants of people from Israel, human sexuality is a choice, and on and on.

Does it make any sense that God would create an organization that breeds haughty, conceited, myopic, opaque, and egotistical behavior? Nope.

Nothing will change until Mormons understand their behavior and how offensive it is to the rest of the world. People of good character will continue to leave the Mormon church. The true believing Mormons won’t be able to understand why. Other than “there must be something defective with the non-believer or somebody hurt their feelings”. These simple types of answers are the only ones the arrogant and short sighted can imagine to be true.

Amen.

Some quotes from Carl Sagan to ponder
“You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe.”

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. it is simply too painful to acknowledge — even to ourselves — that we’ve been so credulous. (So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new bamboozles rise.) ”

“Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? ”

“What I’m saying is, if God wanted to send us a message, and ancient writings were the only way he could think of doing it, he could have done a better job.”

“The major religions on the Earth contradict each other left and right. You can’t all be correct. And what if all of you are wrong? It’s a possibility, you know. You must care about the truth, right? Well, the way to winnow through all the differing contentions is to be skeptical. I’m not any more skeptical about your religious beliefs than I am about every new scientific idea I hear about. But in my line of work, they’re called hypotheses, not inspiration and not revelation.”

Post mormonism note
I was watching a science fiction movie with my Mormon mother-in-law, who is a very strong believing Mormon. After watching the movie, I stated that I thought the movie was quite realistic. The mother-in-law stated that movie was just too unbelievable, the facts didn’t add up in her mind. At that point, I agreed to disagree with her. That’s fine that she didn’t think the movie was believable. It’s okay to disagree.

Later, she asked about my beliefs in Mormonism. I said that I didn’t believe in the LDS religion anymore, the facts just don’t add up in my mind. Joseph Smith’s story is unbelievable to me. None of it makes sense to me. She countered with “what’s wrong with you, did somebody hurt your feelings, you must be under the influence of the devil, are you some sort of loser, do you know you’re going to burn in hell?” and on and on…

Analyzing facts regarding Mormonism oftentimes turns into a fuzzy Rorschach test. The person looking at the facts will see whatever they want to see. There’s no way to convince somebody of your interpretation when they have a completely different view (of the same set of facts). Disagreement is fine. The issue I have with my Mormon relatives and friends is that they get quite angry and upset when somebody views the facts differently from the Mormon interpretation and Mormons quickly turn the discussion into personal attacks (label people as mentally defective, easily hurt feelings, anti-Mormon, hate-Mos and so forth), and furthermore claim the Mormons are being unfairly persecuted, ridiculed, and mocked when somebody views the facts differently from the Mormorn perspective.

I say pedophile, you say prophet.

I say pedophile, you say prophet.

Mormonism is an extraordinary success story in many ways. There are millions of dedicated and hyper-believing members worldwide. Mormonism connects emotionally with large audiences on a visceral level.

However, it seems like the LDS church is incapable of contemplating alternate realities. The LDS church cannot accept that a person has an equal right to choose and espouse beliefs that conflict with theirs. Anybody who disagrees is automatically labeled an anti-Mormon, disrespectful, persecuting, hate-filled, feelings hurt, emotionally damaged person.

The LDS belief system is a zero sum gain; if I am right, you must be wrong. This relieves church members from any obligation to learn or understand what they lack in the ability to process, analyze, synthesize, and comprehend. The LDS church gives itself a pass from understanding facts because the underlying belief system does not require and is not dependent upon facts. The resultant limited world view of the LDS church’s static universe does not correspond to an empirical reality which results in a dysfunctional mental dystopia.

Advertisements

38 Responses to “Mormonism Get Thee Behind Me”

  1. Sidney Carton said

    So did you send a letter to your Bishop requesting to have your name removed from the rolls?

    • skiutah said

      yes, I did get my name removed. However, my spouse refuses to get her name removed because she thinks it’s idiotic that one would have to send a letter to get removed from the rolls. So technically there is still a Mormon in the house…

  2. Peter said

    Being a Mormon, I see this kind of outlook quite often on the internet. We all want to know what is true. Those who have decided that the church is untrue always do so from a perceived physical facts standpoint. The problem is that physical facts are all over the place and not all evidence is completely accurate. We all choose what we want to believe. I think that maybe with all the research that is done to disprove the church, the doctrine might be difficult to follow with physical facts alone. The thing is, physical facts have never proved or disproved Mormonism. It has only influenced peoples beliefs.

    I have been in spiritualy high places in my life and sometimes in lower spiritual places when I was lax on some basic Mormon practices like reading the scriptures and praying. It is at the lower spiritual times when physical evidence seems to weigh heavier. I have come to the conclusion that there is physical evidence and spiritual evidence and that the spiritual evidence has a much more powerful and lasting effect on a persons beliefs.

    I have received a very powerful witness that the Book of Mormon is true. This is difficult to deny, even in the face of so called physical evidence. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that a con man could not have written the book because the Book is full of deep thoughts that could only have come from an honest person. A person just needs to read it with a sincere heart.

    From the outside, Mormon practives such a temple worship and wearing garments seem odd. Even so, those with spiritual eyes can see the benefit of the practices. Though they seem odd, they make allot of sense.

    Unfortunately this thing that you call a feeling, is the only way to become grounded in Mormonism. When Peter testified that Jesus is the Christ, the Lord told him that he was blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal it to him but his father in heaven.

    I can relate to your families responses of:

    * Who hurt your feelings?
    * What commandment couldn’t you keep?
    * What anti-Mormon material did you read?

    My guess is that if you really think about it, your change of belief is either related to one of these or just a form of laziness, a lack of desire to keep the commitments.

    A person who has done some supposedly terrible thing, might lose hope that they can be good enough and then turn away.

    Either way, what we believe is ultimately a choice that we make.

  3. skiutah said

    This response is telling: “your change of belief is either related to one of these or just a form of laziness, a lack of desire to keep the commitments.”

    Imagine having a discussion with somebody, and if they don’t agree with you, you use this line: “you don’t believe because you have a character flaw or can’t follow the rules.”

    Is that the line you would expect from a God inspired religion? or more like the line from somebody associated with a cult?

    The two commandments that cause most people to leave the LDS church are “thou shalt not ask questions” and “thou shalt not think for thyself.”

  4. coventryrm said

    I am thinking that Peter pretty much validated everything you said in your original post. I will also come back to Peter’s post when I have have more time.

  5. Seth R. said

    What I fail to see is why any of these failings are supposedly unique to Mormonism. Or even unique to religion in general.

    Sounds like symptoms of just about any closely knit ideological group.

  6. coventryrm said

    Seth

    You might have a point, I will have to think that one through however my initial thought is that I think you would have a hard time finding an example of ideological groups that make family as divisive as one that has an absolute belief in a deity or that afterlife happiness is dependent to living up to those set ideals.

    Having said that if there are such ideological groups and I and SkiUtah had happened to be a part of one and them and then discovered information and evidence that moved us to a point of disbelief in those ideals and then shunned and treated has we have been from Mormonism we would most likely have a satirical blog about that group. I am not sure though if we could find one that would give us so much easy material, well scientology and perhaps Jehovah Witness’s come to mind, but since I was raised Mormon and was a TBM for the first 30 years of my life that is the one that still has an impact on me and my family so I will stick with it as my main topic and religion in general a close second but would be also willing to do the same if I came across other ideological groups that seemed just as ridiculous to me.

    So having said all that I think we agree, but what I fail to see is why that makes what we are saying any less valid.

  7. […] said What Denton E Thiede on Salamander Society Library …coventryrm on Mormonism Get Thee Behind…Seth R. on Mormonism Get Thee Behind…Adult of god on Can Neanderthals […]

  8. Alan Arns said

    I grew up in Utah and was raised Mormon. I moved to Denver and went to Calvary Chapel where they only teach from the Bible. I was amazed at the difference from Mormonism.

    Below are some questions I would like any Mormon to answer for me:

    Questions to Ask Mormons

    Many of the questions below have been adopted from a much longer list of questions to ask Mormons at Tower to Truth Ministries.

    1. Can you find me archeological and historical proof from non-Mormon sources that prove that the peoples and places named in the Book of Mormon are true?

    2. Why does the Book of Mormon state that Jesus was born in Jerusalem (Alma 7:10) when history and the Bible state that he was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1)?

    3. I’ve read where Joseph Smith said that he translated the golden plates (from which he got the Book of Mormon) letter-by-letter, “by the power of God” and that it was “the most correct of any book on earth.” If that’s true why has the Mormon Church had to make more than 4,000 changes to the Book of Mormon that was originally published in 1830?

    4. Why do the Bible verses quoted in the Book of Mormon contain the italicized words from the King James Version that were added into the KJV text by the translators in the 16th and 17th centuries?

    Here’s an example: 3 Nephi 24:10 says: “…that there shall not be room enough to receive it…” This is an exact quote from Malachi 3:10 from the King James Version. What’s amazing is that seven of these words were not part of the original text. They were added by the KJV translators for clarity. How did those words end up in the Book of Mormon that was supposedly written over a thousand years before the King James Version of the Bible?

    5. Isaiah 43:10 says, “Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.” In Isaiah 44:6, God says, “There is no God besides Me.” In light of what is said here, how can worthy Mormon males become Gods in the afterlife when God already said that before him no God was formed, nor will there be any Gods formed after Him?

    6. Why do Mormons say that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers when both the first chapter of John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:16 teach that Jesus is the creator of all things, including Lucifer?

    7. I read where Brigham Young, the second president of the LDS Church, taught that both the moon and the sun were inhabited by people (Journal of Discourses, 1870, v.13, p.271). Has the Mormon Church ever found scientific evidence of that to be true?

    8. I read in Doctrine and Covenants 84:1-5 where Joseph Smith prophesied that the New Jerusalem and a temple would be built in Zion, Missouri in his generation. Does the Mormon Church still teach that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God after he made a false prophecy?

    9. I read where Brigham Young taught that Adam is “our Father and our God” (Journal of Discourses, Apr. 9, 1852, vol.1, p.50). How can that be true when both the Bible and the Book of Mormon (Mormon 9:12) say that Adam was a creation of God?

    10. If Brigham Young was a true prophet, why would one of your later prophets overturn his declaration which stated that the black man could never hold the priesthood in the LDS Church until after the resurrection of all other races (Journal of Discourses, Dec. 12, 1854, 2:142-143)?

    11. Read Deuteronomy 18:20-22. Since the Bible’s test to determine whether someone is a true prophet of God is 100% accuracy in all his prophecies has the LDS Church ever reconsidered its teaching that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were true prophets?

    12. In the last couple of years, Mormon scholars, and scientists have discovered powerful DNA evidence that has proven that the American Indians are not descendants of the Jewish race (as the Book of Mormon claims in its introduction), but the Asian race. How does your church respond to this scientific evidence?

    13. Why did Joseph Smith condone polygamy as an ordinance from God (Doctrine and Covenants 132 [see v. 38-39]) when the Book of Mormon had already condemned the practice in the book Jacob 1:15 and 2:24?

    • Seth R. said

      If it’s OK with everyone, I’ll take a stab at this.

      1. Can you find me archeological and historical proof from non-Mormon sources that prove that the peoples and places named in the Book of Mormon are true?

      Before answering that, I would like to know what you would consider valid archeological proof of the Book of Mormon.

      2. Why does the Book of Mormon state that Jesus was born in Jerusalem (Alma 7:10) when history and the Bible state that he was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1)?

      The passage in Alma is clearly talking about the land of Jerusalem – which Bethlehem is a part of. If you visit Bethlehem today, you’ll find it’s actually only a few miles from the center of Jerusalem. It’s a suburb of Jerusalem. In any case, Alma’s audience of Nephites would have recognized the name Jerusalem, so it made sense to refer to that as the land of Christ’s birthplace – especially since it was an entirely true statement.

      3. I’ve read where Joseph Smith said that he translated the golden plates (from which he got the Book of Mormon) letter-by-letter, “by the power of God” and that it was “the most correct of any book on earth.” If that’s true why has the Mormon Church had to make more than 4,000 changes to the Book of Mormon that was originally published in 1830?

      Actually, Joseph Smith did not scrutinize the plates “letter by letter”, but merely looked at them and then dictated the words as he was inspired to. Other portions, he translated by seerstone with the phrases appearing on the surface of the stone. He dictated these to his scribe (sometimes Martin Harris, sometimes Emma Smith, and sometimes Oliver Cowderey).

      Unless you believe that God was doing some sort of divine mind control on Joseph’s scribes – and the printer who set the type – the existence of typos and grammar mistakes is hardly surprising. The vast majority of corrections in the Book of Mormon have been to correct spelling and grammar errors. The changes made to actual CONTENT of the book were done when the LDS Church finally secured documents from the RLDS Church showing Joseph’s original notes. Changes where then made to the text to bring it more in line with what Joseph Smith himself actually originally wrote. I can give you examples if you are interested.

      Joseph’s statement about the book being correct referred to doctrinal and gospel content – not spelling, punctuation and grammar.

      4. Why do the Bible verses quoted in the Book of Mormon contain the italicized words from the King James Version that were added into the KJV text by the translators in the 16th and 17th centuries?

      King James Bible is what the people of Joseph’s day were familiar with. The prophet Moroni says the book was written for our day, and Joseph translated it for the audience of his day. It would make sense to use language with which his readers were familiar.

      Here’s an example: 3 Nephi 24:10 says: “…that there shall not be room enough to receive it…” This is an exact quote from Malachi 3:10 from the King James Version. What’s amazing is that seven of these words were not part of the original text. They were added by the KJV translators for clarity. How did those words end up in the Book of Mormon that was supposedly written over a thousand years before the King James Version of the Bible?

      Since this is not a doctrinally erroneous statement, I see no problem with either Mormon rendering his own text in this way, or with God directing Joseph to translate it that way.

      5. Isaiah 43:10 says, “Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.” In Isaiah 44:6, God says, “There is no God besides Me.” In light of what is said here, how can worthy Mormon males become Gods in the afterlife when God already said that before him no God was formed, nor will there be any Gods formed after Him?

      God is not making a statement about species or ontology here. He is merely stating that he is the only being we should worship – which command Mormons keep.

      6. Why do Mormons say that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers when both the first chapter of John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:16 teach that Jesus is the creator of all things, including Lucifer?

      The word “create” in the Bible does not mean “out of nothing.” All things in LDS theology are eternal and not created out of nothing – ex nihilo. The word “create” in an LDS context means to work with something that exists already and bring it to a new state. In this sense Cololssians is not speaking of some ex nihilo generation of everything. Same story with the word “made” in John 1 – it doesn’t mean ex nihilo creation.

      7. I read where Brigham Young, the second president of the LDS Church, taught that both the moon and the sun were inhabited by people (Journal of Discourses, 1870, v.13, p.271). Has the Mormon Church ever found scientific evidence of that to be true?

      It is quite clear from reading the actual quotes that Brigham Young was merely expressing opinion, and not officially “teaching” it to his people – certainly he wasn’t claiming prophesy or revelation when he said it. More detail on this here:

      http://en.fairmormon.org/Brigham_Young/Teachings/Moon_and_sun_are_inhabited

      8. I read in Doctrine and Covenants 84:1-5 where Joseph Smith prophesied that the New Jerusalem and a temple would be built in Zion, Missouri in his generation. Does the Mormon Church still teach that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God after he made a false prophecy?

      Generation is a pretty vague word, that could mean any number of things – so I don’t think you can firmly declare that the prophesy’s time for fulfillment is past. But that said, it is also possible that this is a failed prophesy, and it need not impact Joseph Smith’s validity as a prophet anyway. Many of God’s promises and declarations are conditional. This prophesy could have been one of them. The Doctrine and Covenants makes it quite clear that the LDS in Missouri did not follow God’s instructions, and suffered as a result. The failure of the temple could simply be one of those consequences.

      9. I read where Brigham Young taught that Adam is “our Father and our God” (Journal of Discourses, Apr. 9, 1852, vol.1, p.50). How can that be true when both the Bible and the Book of Mormon (Mormon 9:12) say that Adam was a creation of God?

      I rather think that Brigham Young meant this in a symbolic sense, and was not literally stating that Adam was God the Father. That’s my own personal read on these quotes. Especially given that Brigham Young himself made later statements that would contradict such a notion anyway. No one really knows what Young’s meaning here was, and he never had a chance to clarify.

      Or it could be that Brigham Young was stating an opinion, and got it wrong. It’s possible, I suppose.

      10. If Brigham Young was a true prophet, why would one of your later prophets overturn his declaration which stated that the black man could never hold the priesthood in the LDS Church until after the resurrection of all other races (Journal of Discourses, Dec. 12, 1854, 2:142-143)?

      Because Brigham Young’s declaration was never a revelation to begin with, and had no binding power.

      11. Read Deuteronomy 18:20-22. Since the Bible’s test to determine whether someone is a true prophet of God is 100% accuracy in all his prophecies has the LDS Church ever reconsidered its teaching that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were true prophets?

      No, it says to test the accuracy of each INDIVIDUAL prophecy, and if it doesn’t happen, don’t believe the prophet on that topic. The Deuteronomy passage makes no demand of 100% accuracy.

      12. In the last couple of years, Mormon scholars, and scientists have discovered powerful DNA evidence that has proven that the American Indians are not descendants of the Jewish race (as the Book of Mormon claims in its introduction), but the Asian race. How does your church respond to this scientific evidence?

      That’s not really a problem, considering that Lehi and Nephi weren’t Jews. They were of the tribe of Ephraim. And Ishmael’s family was from Manasseh. Both of these genetic lines were carried off into Assyria and never heard from again. We have no idea what those genetic lines would even look like anyway.

      Also, you are misrepresenting the DNA study. It never claimed to document ALL possible sources of Amerindian DNA. It only claimed to find the main and primary source – which was Asiatic.

      This is in full harmony with the Book of Mormon claims – since the Book of Mormon tells the story of a small geographic area – probably no larger than Pennsylvania – and never rules out Lehi’s party mixing in with the indigenous population. In such a scenario, whatever DNA signature Lehi’s party carried would have been diluted and lost in the larger genetic mix. This isn’t a new argument – LDS scholars have been saying this for over 50 years now (well before the DNA studies ever came out).

      You’re also forgetting that about 90% of the Amerindian population died from smallpox and other European diseases when the conquistadors arrived. That’s quite a genetic bottleneck. It makes a small infusion of Middle Eastern DNA at some point in the distant past impossible to rule out.

      Go ask any population geneticist – they’ll agree.

      13. Why did Joseph Smith condone polygamy as an ordinance from God (Doctrine and Covenants 132 [see v. 38-39]) when the Book of Mormon had already condemned the practice in the book Jacob 1:15 and 2:24?

      The passage in Jacob allows an exception for polygamy when God wishes to raise up righteous posterity.

      Hope that helps.

  9. The issue is not whether any religion is “true” or “false” — the fact is that no religion in the world can be proven true (hence, the admonition of all religious leaders from time immemorial to take religion on “faith”). We simply choose a story we like — e.g., one that has an eschatology that we think would be very cool if true. With “Mormonism” it is a magnet for truth — it attempted and attempts to “restore” all things — which by definition means that there is nothing new in Mormonism since it is simply a restoration of what was. Also, the story of Mormonism for some is a great story: families are forever, marriages are eternal, we should seek knowledge and learning from all the great and good books ever written in areas of science, mathematics, philosophy, religion, etc., we can actually become like the gods if we want, etc. Now in this story if the foregoing were true then that would be most excellent. Much better than all the alternatives in my opinion of course. LOL The founder of “Mormonism” taught an important principle that escapes most Mormons. He said: “I see no faults in the Church, and therefore let me be resurrected with the Saints, whether I ascend to heaven or descend to hell, or go to any other place. And if we go to hell, we will turn the devils out of doors and make a heaven of it.” Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, vol. 5, p. 517. Joseph Smith recognized that the LDS Church was good and even if it were not “true,” it would not matter because by force of will if there is a Hell and we end up there, we will just throw out the devils and make it a heaven. This is a great story and if true a great attitude to have. So when you left the LDS Church you basically said I don’t want to believe its eschatology and its purpose of learning, growing, etc. And maybe you are like too many people who actually think the Bible is true or any other book — these are simply books written by men that tell a story — Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc. — all great stories for many — so to argue which religion is “true” when we cannot even prove that God exists is folly and intellectually stupid. I hope you found a story you like.

    • coventryrm said

      Michael – I couldn’t agree with you more in regards to your statement

      “So to argue which religion is “true” when we cannot even prove that God exists is folly and intellectually stupid.” or basically arguing that my imaginary friend can beat up your imaginary friend.

      However we can measure the claims of a religion or “Story” as you call it against what we know to be true through evidence and known facts and I feel I can safely say that without any doubt in my mind Mormonism is not plausible and clearly based on a core narrative that cannot be based in any sort of literal truth. (I think the same of all the current religious narratives that are offered as well)

      I would also disagree with many of your points regarding Mormonism and what it encourages and teaches…. certainly was a different experience for me during my 30+ years of Membership.

      • Michael R.E. Sanders said

        Maybe you are missing my point – all claims of religions are implausible and are not based on any sort of literal truth. Read the holy books of all religions and you will find they were written by unknown, known, but mostly claimed authors — stories based on the same stories in older more primitive religions, etc. Mormonism is in the same boat. Just pick the story you think would be cool if it were “true” all while realizing there is no such thing as a “true” story; simply stories.

        Certainly, people can disagree about what any particular religion encourages and teaches — we filter the stories through our own experiences, prejudices, etc. Too many people take religion far too seriously and the actually begin believing the symbols of a religion are its reality. And so they have good or bad experiences based on their digestion and they blame it on a fictional story they chose to believe or had put on them by parents. Once they discover that the symbols are the reality they freak out and then run from one religion to another (even secular humanism is a religion).

        Basically, coming from a different religious tradition than you (I suppose) in other religions people pick and choose what they want to believe — even if the Papacy disagrees. For some reason, I meet many Mormons who can’t do this — they think they have to accept everything they are told usually by people who don’t understand Mormonism (like bishops, stake presidents, general authorities, etc.) — when you research Mormonism you find differences of opinions on doctrines etc from the founding of Mormonism.

        Okay, I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to defend any particular religion — when I’m not. But I do want people to understand that religion is based on faith and no religion can be proven or disproven true or false because that is a false dichotomy: religions are either good or bad. Do they teach followers to help others, a persuasive theodicy, and an fun eschatology?

        Did Adam and Eve actually see God? Did Moses? Did others in all kinds of other religions? Did Joseph Smith, Jr.? If there is no God, then of course the answer is no. Since we can’t prove or disprove the existence of God then the answer has to be no vis-a-vis all religions. Now does that mean we should belong to a religion? No. We just shouldn’t “drink the blue Kool-Aid.” There is no literal truth in any religion.

        I hope you found a story you like — I have had to conflate Mormonism, Zen, Bushido, and Stoicism. LOL All stories that I like.

    • coventryrm said

      Michael

      I agree with you in principle if in fact people could view their “Stories” as just that, and understand that it is their own belief and really has no basis in actual fact and chose to live it purely for themselves..cool, more power to them ….. but in a practical sense we can see it doesn’t ever seem to work out that way ..or could it?

      I consider myself an atheist…. when I see the religious losing some of their “Privilege” and they in turn label that as “Persecution” or when the most popular myth can actually have an impact on what we teach in our schools … such as the Creationism – Evolution debate – I move a little more in a Anti Theist direction. I would also disagree that it is fair to throw secularism under a Religion label if you use that lose a definition for Religion.

      I would then have to say my religion is either kite boarding or skiing ….. So I guess it just depends on what time of year it is as to which God I should pray to the God that produces powder snow by the feet or the God that blow some serious kick ass wind.

  10. The US Supreme Court ruled that Secular Humanism is a religion. So there you go. LOL

    All intelligent people have to be atheistic rationally since there is no proof for or against the existence of a creative force reified as God; on the other hand, intelligent people can be theistic based on metaphysical experiences found in the general human population and attributed to religions of all kinds.

    The point of choosing a story that would be totally cool if “true,” is primarily to fill in the gaps that philosophy cannot fill — such as hope when loved ones become ill or die (or both); it is certainly nice to feel, believe, understand, that their is or may be a life after this — and of course there are plenty of metaphysical experiences suggesting the possibility (all poppycock of course) — the primary gap that most people need filled is to have a social and economic safety net in times of emotional or financial crisis. Most religions fail in this regard so the story chosen should have this as a priority in my opinion. My fraternity, for example, provides an emotional and economic safety net (Freemasonry) but it isn’t anywhere near as good as the LDS Church. It used to be that men joined fraternities for this purpose, but our government now tries to fill this role with social workers and welfare.

    The issue is not whether a “religion” is “true” or “false,” but whether it is “good” or “bad.” And that is subjective. As for creationism, Mormonism offers some radical concepts that are entertaining but turn the whole evolution/creationism on its head. The obvious part of the story of Mormonism is its insistence from the get go that God created the earth in six “periods” rather than “days.” Hence, these time periods could be millions of years and the procedure utilized could be similar to our theory of evolution. “Creationism” is more related to the fundamentalist superstitious Christian story. Less obvious is something Brigham Young once said (and, yes, he was quite the character, but a great Freemason). He opined that (and this is from memory — I wrote a paper in university on this topic related to the Scopes Monkey trial) Adam and Eve brought all the animals and plants (I suppose the seeds and embryos — but, hey, he was telling a story and I’m not a woman so I’m not going to correct him) to this earth from another planet. Fun stuff — silly, but fun. And if this part of the story were true, then that would really be cool. It makes more sense than ex nihilo creationism.

    Since your religion is either kite boarding or skiing, then you are more in the new age camp and worshiping Mother Earth. Mother Earth as a God would produce the snow by the feet or blow some serious kick ass wind. But I know that a lot of people think/believe their particular God can do the same.

    Anyway, I could dig your religion. LOL

    • coventryrm said

      I was working on a response to your supreme court claim regarding Secular Humanism being a religion… but being lazy I am just going to quote you one of many responses I found debunking or at least showing how out of context that claim is for the purpose of say seeing – You Secularist story is just the same as our superstitious religious stories the supreme court even says so –

      “Although some would deny that secular humanism is a religion, even the Supreme Court has recognized it as such. In Torkoso v. Watkins (1961), the Supreme Court said that “among religions … are Buddhism … and secular humanism,” etc.

      I’ve heard this quote before from others, and decided to investigate it for myself. I had a very difficult time in doing this at first — namely, because the government documents on the case were, well, spelled differently than how Diane Dew spelled it. It’s actually “Torcaso,” not “Torkoso.” It makes things a bit difficult when you’re trying to do a search or trying to look something up. [Case numbers: 367 U.S. 488.] So, I started reading. If the Supreme Court really did rule that Secular Humanism is a religion, then the case must be about Secular Humanism applying as a religion. I was quite distressed to find that the case, in fact, had absolutely nothing to do with Secular Humanism applying as a religion. To quote the document, the case was about: “Appellant was appointed by the Governor of Maryland to the office of Notary Public; but he was denied a commission because he would not declare his belief in God, as required by the Maryland Constitution. Claiming that this requirement violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, he sued in a state court to compel issuance of his commission; but relief was denied.” Well, that’s quite amazing. This court case had absolutely nothing to do with Secular Humanism. What was the final ruling of the Supreme Court? “This Maryland religious test for public office unconstitutionally invades the appellant’s freedom of belief and religion and therefore cannot be enforced against him.” Okay, I’ll reread that. Okay, I’ll reread that one more time. Hhhmmmm… I’m still not seeing anything about the court ruling that Secular Humanism is a religion.

      I kept looking, thinking that Diane Dew suffered from some serious lack of ethics. I mean, if you publish an essay, deliver it to the public, and use misleading and backhanded tactics to demonstrate your point of view, then you are a liar, in the most deceitful sense of the word. Not only are you a liar, but you’re using misinformation, lies, and deceit to demonstrate your point. If you can prove Christianity only by using lies and misinformation, how does that speak for Christianity? Quite poorly. So, I think it is quite just to say this: Diane Dew has done a disservice to her readers, other Christians, and herself. Christians ought to oppose her fanatical ideals as much as Atheists. I’m an Atheist, but just because I am, it doesn’t mean I support Stalin, or any other dictator whose rule was simply to brutalize society. Anyway, on with the critique…

      So, I kept reading the case. I read the decision of the court, and then I was looking through the footnotes. And, that’s where I found it. Footnote number 11, second to the bottom, states: “Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.” Okay, there is a little lesson in logic that I would like to teach anyone who agrees with Dew’s statement, “…secular humanism is a religion, even the Supreme Court has recognized it as such.” For example, I am just as qualified in stating this: the Supreme Court said, “Can a negro … become entitled to all the rights, and privileges, and immunities, guarantied by that instrument [the Constitution] to the citizen? […] We think they [African humans]… can claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States.” It’s true, the Supreme Court definitely did say this. For those doubting me, look up this famous case: U.S. Supreme Court, DRED SCOTT v. SANDFORD, 60 U.S. 393 (1856), 60 U.S. 393 (How.).

      What’s misleading about such a statement? Imagine this. You’re reading a pamphlet for the National Socialist Party, and it begins with a quote, “The Supreme Court ruled that Negros are not allowed to the same rights as whites!” Then, needless to say, it was probably followed by a misspelling of “Dred Scott v. Sanford.” What’s misleading about this? Well, for one, it’s a case that has been disregarded, because it was based on slave law. But even besides that, the court case was about a slave suing for his liberty, when the court ruled that a slave cannot sue, since he is not a citizen. Does this put into stone, proof, that African humans have no rights? Absolutely not. This was a footnote to the case, which only partly reflected on the opinion of the court.

      How, then, was it misleading for Diane Dew to quote the Supreme Court as “recognizing” Secular Humanism as a religion? Simple. Any person could simply dig up all the case files of the Supreme Court and look through until they find one of the justices say one thing or another that might relate to their case. Take a Civil Rights case and quote a dissenting justice who says that “Negroids are inferior!” Take an early Federalist case and quote a dissenting justice who says that “Every state must have the right to enslave Africans if they want.” Take some case in the 1800’s where one of the judges states that being a Baptist is the only way to get to heaven, and you can say, “Well, the Supreme Court says that all Catholics are bound to suffer all the tortures in hell!” Has there been any case, though, that was an argument over whether catholics are going to hell? No, not to my knowledge, there hasn’t been. (But, I would definitely be highly amused if I heard of such a case.) Has there ever been in a case, that was an argument over whether Secular Humanism is a religion or not? To my understanding, also, there has not.”

      I am also working on some comments regarding your final summary post… might take me a day or more as I am not a fast writer nor does it come very natural for me. 🙂

      • You are getting way too serious. The facts are that courts have held that secular humanism is a religion — but not for establishment clause purposes — my point is that secular humanism is a religion. You objected. In jest, I mentioned that the courts had held it to be a religion. In Torcaso v. Watkins, Justice Hugo Black in dicta mentioned a number of religions that do not teach of a God including secular humanism — I would have included Jainism. In Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda, a tax case, the court held that this secular humanism group was a religion. Another tax case, Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia, a non-theistic religious institution, the court defined this secular humanism society as a religion and held that it was a religion. In Peloza v Capistrano School District, the court made it plain that for Establishment Clause purposes, secular humanism was not a religion. In Kalka v. Hawk, the court opined that under the First Amendment secular humanism is not a religion, therefore, secular humanism, namely the theory of evolution, may be taught as fact without violating the fiction of separation of church and state. The issue is not the legal distinctions of when secular humanism is or is not a religion; the issue is simply that secular humanism is a non-theistic religion. NBD

        Relying on the sophistical reasoning of the US Supreme Court obviously presents problems as the US Supreme Court is constantly changing its mind vis-a-vis the meaning of the “living document.” I’m a lawyer btw.

        I also have no idea who Diane Dew is nor do I care. I doubt that she understands that she believes in a story that she happens to like and most likely (just guessing) thinks her story is “true.”

        Anyway, you are straying from the position that all religions are fiction on their face; believers accept them on faith only — they have no proof. They attribute common metaphysical experiences commonly found in humans around the world as proof that their belief system is “true.” An old but still good book to read is The Varieties of Religious Experiences by William James (the title may be off a little but I first read this book as a Mormon missionary over 45 years ago). Secular humanism is a religion based on faith as well — as are all philosophies.

        Admittedly, epistemologically we may use pragmatism to test various concepts found in the story we like and if they work for us personally and subjectively then arguably one could say that he or she understands what he or she believes is “true” for them. But most experiences merely “prove” that these kinds of experiences happen in humans regardless of religious or non-religious belief (e.g., premonitions attributed to meditation, happenstance, God, the Holy Spirit, etc.). And of course people can read books and be “enlightened” on a personal level but that does not mean that the book is “holy” or “from God.” It just means that for the reader something written touched them. For this reason, reading holy writ from around the world is enlightening but so is reading philosophy.

        Basically, when we choose a story we like, the holy writ of that story becomes the “rule and guide of our faith.” It doesn’t mean that the holy writ is “True” or “from God,” but only that we have decided to inculcate the axiology in such texts and to focus on living good, prosperous, happy lives now. We may also speculate on the eschatology, soteriology, teleology, theodicy, etc., of the story we like — but this is simply a form of intellectual and spiritual masturbation — feels good but nothing more.

        When we turn our back on religion we are turning our back on ethics, morality, charity, and all the other common virtues found in all good religions. So I argue that we don’t turn our backs on Mormonism if we once were part of this organization; we simply decide to change our religious clothing is all. Since religion is a fiction, a state of mind, based on faith and not fact, our understanding of religion is our own state of mind. In Mormonism, for example, we can trace certain changes in the doctrines and many are arguably silly changes — those we simply reject. But we keep an open mind in that we understand that even the ideas we accept are based on our subjective interpretation. The idea of the illusion and the reality has to be kept in balance. So too many believers in religion run away from themselves — but if they at some point find out who they really are then they can settle their minds if they want and choose a story they think is “True.”

        But in my opinion “religion” is similar to Plato’s Cave. Most stay in the cave believing in the shadows and are afraid to leave the cave to learn the truth. When they come out of the darkness of the cave, the light hurts their eyes and they flee back to the soothing darkness. Others, however, leave the Cave, see the truth which clarifies the shadows and they receive further light and knowledge — they don’t reject the Cave because the shadows are indeed real but they are illusionary. The reality is something completely different. So the enlightened do not leave their brothers in the Cave but help them enter into the light line upon line, precept upon precept, etc. Or, better yet, they mind their own business, keep their mouths shut, and let those who want to stay in the Cave simply stay there. When or if they are ready they will emerge — but many are called and few are chosen; hence, few leave the cave. LOL

        Also, with respect to your comments on kite boarding or skiing religion, after thinking a little about this, I should have mentioned that this is a corruption of the purpose of religion. Admittedly, if there is a God, then He/She/It must be going nuts having humans constantly “praying” give me, give me, give me, this or that, instead of help me help others and thank you for what little I have. If (I know you were joking and I liked the joke, I’m just using your analogy to make a point) the kite boarding/skiing religion is based on getting the kite boarding/skiing God to give nice winds and great snow then it is a gimme, gimme, gimme, religion. Something that annoys me as an intellectual.

        Thanks for the dialogue. 😉

  11. One would think that I would spell “there” instead of “their” — this is what happens when I post before proofing. LOL

  12. In summary, we don’t blame religion for our unhappiness; we don’t look at the foundation of a particular religion in the past but what it actually is today; out of 1000 believers in the same religion, you will find 1000 different interpretations; you don’t put your religion behind you, you put your negative attitude behind you; you walk on the sunny side of doubt (since doubt is the reason for faith and you can either choose to be the curmudgeon and walk on the dark side of doubt or the happy person and walk on the sunny side of doubt); and you “respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.” (H.L. Mencken) — if we aren’t happy with our religion then we aren’t happy with ourself. To paraphrase the Dalai Lama (not that he is an authority but I think he makes an excellent point): when asked by a person what that person needed to do to convert to Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama said: first, learn everything there is to know about the underlying philosophy of your religion.” In the final analysis, all good religions are the same: they teach us to act charitably (brotherly love), to soothe the unhappy, to compassionate their miseries, and to restore peace to the troubled mind; to have hope of eternal life (whether reincarnation, resurrection, or simply going to Valhalla or the Happy Hunting Ground); and to inculcate habits of concentrated attention, energetic volition, and self-denial in unnecessary things; to set examples worthy of imitation (Aristotelian virtue ethics), and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Kant’s Categorical Imperative); to seek knowledge and learning from all sources — and most throw in some metaphysical smoke and mirrors for the weaker minded but honest followers. As intellects, we have a different responsibility when it comes to religion, the story we choose, and that is to ignore the stuff that the average person needs to believe but to build on the philosophical framework and make the story better — we are not to destroy the faith of others and we have to understand that the average person does need to believe in a “hell” and eternal punishment for heinous crimes against humanity and his neighbor, and in a “heaven” as a reward for putting up with all the bull-shit of this life (existentialism). Lastly, but not completely, as intellectuals we have to teach the idea that natural law is based on the idea (ideal) of a Creator who/which has endowed humans with certain inalienable rights (including without limitation life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) and therefore liberty is an inalienable right and any government that seeks to alienate that right may legitimately be overthrown, and of course the idea of “karma” which has oppressed men from the beginning of recorded time was eliminated through the idea of a “saviour” who took upon him the karmic sins; etc. Blah, blah, blah. Pick a story and don’t look back. LOL

    • coventryrm said

      I really don’t see how not believing in something any longer is congruent to a having negative attitude in fact my attitude is one of the most cheery and upbeat that I know and SkiUtah the author of the post you commented on is one of the most happy upbeat positive people I know. So a few Men have made comments about happiness and religions and such that you have quoted but that doesn’t give them any more basis of reality than what anyone else might throw out there, but does it have any real practical application or has it actually been tested? , If in fact the unhappiness was with ourselves just because we no longer find a religion or story to be true for us anymore than those that leave the religions they were raised in would still take their unhappiness with them…But a recent study actually shows the opposite to be true and I can in may case honestly say it is most definitely true for me.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-do-americans-still-dislike-atheists/2011/02/18/AFqgnwGF_story.html

      “In the final analysis, all good religions are the same: they teach us to act charitably (brotherly love), to soothe the unhappy, to compassionate their miseries, and to restore peace to the troubled mind” –

      Not sure the Religions spawned from the God of Abraham actually fit within this category sure you can pick some quotes from the texts of these religions that talk of those things but you can also pick just as many to the contrary so in the end you pick and choose what part of the story to buy into and what part to dismiss so in a sense you are doing the same as me …. The good points you speak of are part of my story but it is not dependent on a fear of heaven or hell ….

      I think where you and I completely disagree is that Morality, Ethics Charity are in fact tied to religion. (Unless we are still calling Secularism a religion) In fact I think there are valid arguments to say that we have become more moral and ethical etc… despite of the many religions, take your story…. Your church still wants to deny the rights of individuals with the push to ban same sex marriage, blacks couldn’t hold the priesthood long after most the world had figured out this kind of discrimination immoral, our Country hung unto slavery…The Bible condones it….etc….

      I think it would be pretty arrogant on my part to place myself as an intellectual that is above having the fear of hell or the reward of heaven being needed as a motivator to do good that while others are not … It sounds to me you view it more as a crutch by saying that even though you realize these stories are implausible we are so weak minded that we can’t figure out how to live our life in a happy productive way unless we buy into some religious myth so just pick a story and stick with it regardless this to me just seems not only irresponsible but neglectful to our duties as a human society …. So if I was raised to believe that Holocaust didn’t happen I should stick with that group of people or culture simply because that’s my story and I am sticking to it? If we actually live our lives this way it just doesn’t seem that much enlightenment would have been possible we would just hang onto the dogma of our fathers. We need to constantly challenge those things we have been taught to believe that have no basis in fact or are jus based on stories handed down through generations that is how real Moral change has happened.

      • I think I am saying that we pick the story we like. It’s okay to change stories — but it’s like putting on a new suit of clothes; we remain the same. Before I was a Mormon I was as happy as I am now for example. I suppose one could say that I am a secular Mormon. The underlying philosophy is great in my opinion. So I changed from being an atheist to being a Mormon because of Mormonisms emphasis on learning, the integrity of the family, its openness to change, etc. Although philosophically I am more of a 19th Century Mormon — you know, the magnet for truth idea. But as for being happy, I’m as happy now as I was then — religion has nothing to do with happiness.

        I suppose I was referring to the bitter Mormons I have met and the bitter Latter-day ain’ts — they just can’t get away from criticizing the Church, making fun of J. Smith, Jr., polygamy, etc. — all old stuff that is irrelevant to the LDS Church today. They need to be more like my Catholic relatives: some devoted and some that only go to mass on Christmas and New Year and know the Pope is nuts, but they are Catholics and that is not going to change.

        Also, you wrote in pertinent part: “. . . just because we no longer find a religion or story to be true for us anymore . . ..” My point is that we have to understand that every story is false. The mistake too many believers make is thinking their story is true. No. You pick a story that if it were true (which we know it isn’t) that would be cool. You don’t leave a religion because you don’t believe the story is true anymore — because it never was true. You leave a religion because you no longer think that if the story were true that would be cool.

        I do agree that many people link their happiness with a story, and then when they leave that story they are happier. Why? Because when they left the story the no longer believed it was “true,” and they were no longer chained to the fiction that they had forged in their own minds! If they had understood that the issue never was whether their story was true or false, but simply whether it was on average good or bad, and they rejected what they found bad, then they would have been happy with their story as long as they understood that “if their story were true then that would be great.” Did the story of Mormonism change? Maybe a little. But if families were forever, would that be a cool story to embrace? If marriage could be eternal would that be a cool story? If the knowledge we gain in this life goes with us in another, would that be cool? If there were no “hell,” but simply a less kingdom of glory, would that be cool? If we could progress eternally even from one kingdom of glory to another until we reached our understanding of godhood, would that be cool? If our story claimed to be a magnet of truth that kept growing in knowledge would that be cool? Of course, once a person starts to believe the story actually is true, then amen to that man — he has crossed the line from rationality to irrationality and he has started to sip if not gulp the “blue kool-aid.” And then when he discovers what he should have known from day one, that what he believed was not true, he changes his life, upsets his family, and starts looking for another story — or better he realizes finally that all stories are fiction and he just needs to find one that would be cool if it were true.

        Now, admittedly, atheists like the story that we are just mammals and when we die that is it; the end. Personally, if that story were true compared to other stories, such as Zen, or Hinduism, or even Jainism that is atheist but has an interesting eschatology, or even Mormonism, then it sucks totally. I like a more upbeat story.

        As for your fear of hell or reward of heaven, here is something from my fraternity that addresses this — at least it is part of the story I like (which dove-tails nicely into my secular Mormonism): “The real Freemason is distinguished from the rest of Mankind by the uniform unrestrained rectitude of his conduct. Other men are honest in fear of punishment which the law might inflict; they are religious in expectation of being rewarded, or in dread of the devil, in the next world. A Freemason would be just if there were no laws, human or divine, except those written in his heart by the finger of his Creator. In every climate, under every system of religion, he is the same. He kneels before the Universal Throne of God in gratitude for the blessing he has received and humble solicitation for his future protection. He venerates the good men of all religions. He disturbs not the religion of others. He restrains his passions, because they cannot be indulged without injuring his neighbor or himself. He gives no offense, because he does not choose to be offended. He contracts no debts which he is certain he cannot discharge, because he is honest upon principle.” The Farmers’ Almanac, 1823 edition. This explains why Joseph Smith, his brother, and Brigham Young, John Taylor, et alia, were all Freemasons — they bought into this philosophy.

        As for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the reason Abraham was blessed by God was because of his charity; however, many Jewish scholars admit that Abraham’s God was a War God. But the reality is that we focus on religions TODAY. Not 100 years ago, or 1000 , or 2000 or 5000. What does each story teach today and if what they teach were true would that be good?

        I still consider secularism a religion — a non-theistic religion — but the better analogy is Jainism. The Jaines do not believe in a God, but they are some of the most honest, ethical, moral, charitable people on earth — yet, their actions are based on their eschatology.

        You raise a great point about homosexual marriage. In my opinion, early Mormon polygamy offered sanctuary to lesbians. As for their male counterparts, the Mormon doctrine is that those men who refuse heterosexual marriage have the opportunity tobe “administering angels” in the Celestial Kingdom. This makes sense because in Mormon theology “eternal increase” that is the desire to have children is a sine qua non to entering the Celestial Kingdom; so there is nothing wrong with being in the Celestial Kingdom as an administering angel since gays are not willing to marry a woman to have increase. Of course, as you know, this idea has been truncated by the adoption of “Christian” ideas into Mormonism through all the Christian converts who have brought their Christian ideas with them. Christianity, however, started out as a Jewish religion but then became the state religion of Rome. Under Roman law, men were the perfect creation of the gods; women were merely defective men; and homosexual men were lower than women because they looked like men but didn’t act the part sexually. This idea became part of Christianity. Too bad the LDS Church ignores this solution.

        Instead, the LDS Church takes the position that just as heterosexual men and women may not engage in premarital sex or extramarital sex, neither may homosexual men and women. Now in this case, if I were a homosexual, I’m unsure if I would like this story if I thought I had to engage in sex with lots of men, or that I could not live peacefully with another man. I would much prefer the original “revealed” story that would say that me and my male partner if we were ethical, charitable, and moral, could both end up in the highest degree of glory as an administering angel. That would be cool.

        And yes Joseph Smith, Jr. ordained blacks to the priesthood in the 1800s in the South, and wrote “revelations” stating that black men and white men were equal in the eyes of God; this resulted in Mormons being persecuted by pro-slavery interests in Missouri and Illinois. So to placate the Christians in Missouri and Illinois, no more slaves or free blacks were ordained. When the Saints left Nauvoo and headed to the Great Basin that was part of Mexico and then reverted to a US territory Brigham Youngstill wanted to do missionary work in the Southern States so he did not follow the “revelation” of Joseph Smith, Jr. to give the priesthood to black men. Sad. Again, not following the dictates from God according to the story. And so it took, what?, about 150 years to go back to what Joseph Smith, Jr. originally taught and did vis-a-vis ordaining all men to the priesthood.

        As for slavery, we have to realize that “slavery” was not all that bad compared to life in general for almost all mankind. I’m not going to defend slavery, particularly since the word for slave comes from Slav because the Slavs were slaves for almost forever, but if we drop back to the 1800s in the United States, we find an interesting picture. E.g., a free white man in New York City, who did not own property could not vote (and votes were bought and sold anyway so this “right” was unimportant at that time except to get a silver dollar and all the beer you could drink on election day if you voted as you were told), when he got sick and lost his job, he and his family were thrown out on the street when they could not pay the rent. His wife in too many cases had to resort to prostitution to earn enough money to pay the rent. On the other hand, a slave in the south who could not vote and who owned no property, when he got sick, he did not lose his job; his wife did not have to resort to prostitution, etc. Now the children of the slaves in the south had to work, but so did the children of the free whites in NYC have to work. In other words, it is folly to condemn lifestyles of the past based on our lifestyle today.

        Look, I’m talking about the story — not how it is interpreted by others. This is important. E.g., abortion. LDS doctrine teaches that a still born child may not be sealed to its parents because no spirit ever entered the body. The child has to breathe on its own volition after birth. Hence, while abortion may be condemned on moral and ethical grounds related to respect for life it may not be condemned based on Mormon doctrine as “revealed.”

        This is why those of us who like the story if it were true, realizing that it isn’t, but thinking it would be cool if it were, spend our time education Mormons to the foundation doctrines of the story and not some twisted version that contradicts what God allegedly revealed. Hard work? Certainly. But because we understand that this is all just a story and what matters is our personal private relationship with God we really don’t get our panties in a wad over this type of nonsense: polygamy, slavery, abortion, etc.

        As for the Bible, that book has had so many things added to it that as we discover more and more of these additions and deletions we realize that we don’t worry about what it seemingly “condones.” What the Bible says about homosexuality is that it opposes those who claim to be bi-sexual. For mankind to exist, children need to be born and so if a man has the ability to choose one or the other then he has to choose heterosexuality. If a man cannot choose then he has no agency and so who cares — he just has to follow what makes sense using some thing like Kant’s Categorical Imperative — if everyone did what he is doing would that be good for the human race?

        When you read Plato, Aristotle, Al-Farabi, and other philosophers, particularly Machiavelli, it becomes plain that the average man needs the “fear of God” to make him act morally. As a Freemason, I act morally volitionally — not because of some silly book. But I also am a student of history and when you read the accounts of pagan societies the rule of force was applied to keep the peace because mankind was so basically bestial. Blood feuds were common. Christianity worked for centuries to try to replace physical force with metaphysical force to get men to act civilly, morally, etc. Sometimes it took and sometimes it didn’t — men are still men and they have a blood lust; hence, religions don’t work most of the time and men go to war. The blood lust is blamed on the religion trying to change men instead of humanity in general.

        I never said you had to stick with your story; you can change your religion as often as you change your clothes — but you are the same regardless of the clothes you put on.

        When you read the writings of the philosophers about human nature you will realize that the philosopher acts morally because it is the rational thing to do, but most people are too stupid and need not a crutch but a club to force them to act morally.

        Religion is more about an socio-economic safety net. Moral men will act morally intuitively but even moral men need help at times dealing with financial disaster, disease, and heart ache. This is where the religious story becomes important. Moreover, the fear of hell for far too many men is what makes them act morally.

        If you choose a story that you think would be cool if it WERE true, then yes you stick with it no matter what, but if you ever start thinking your story actually is true then you are an idiot and you deserve to be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. If you were raised to believe the Holocaust didn’t happen and you actually believed it, then you would be stupid.

        What you have to do is decide if you have rejected as story that if it were true would be cool; not a story that you thought was true. We don’t hang on to the dogma of our fathers — the word dogma suggests that the believer accepts it as being true. The rational believer never accepts anything as being true; only that if it were true then that would be cool. If you find another story that is better than that of Mormonism then that is the story for you. Mormonism is supposed to embrace all truth found everywhere — it is the superset; everything else is a subset.

        Your statement that “we need to constantly challenge those things we have been taught to believe that have no basis in fact or are just based on stories handed down through generations” shows me that you have missed my point. Every religious system has no basis in fact and are based on stories handed own through generations. But these religions are based on a constant axiology and teach lessons through these stories (allegories — even the Book of Mormon could be considered allegorical and not historical and still it would have tremendous value) that help us live better lives. Moral change has not changed — read the virtue ethics of Aristotle for example and tell me how morality has changed. What happens is that men become immoral over time and these holy books have stories that tell of the hell that will have to be paid to get men to return to the morality that has allowed peaceful harmonious civilizations to thrive.

        Which brings us right back to my original point: pick a story you like and then start living life. Religion should be about 1/10th of one percent of our life. The remainder is living the virtuous life, seeking to excel so that righteousness may abound, and setting examples worthy of imitation. Your religion should not define you. So we never have to put the story we choose to believe behind us — we just have to make sure we understand the story based on our own study, reflection, and intellect, and not rely on what others tell us the story is — don’t let the blind lead the blind.

        Okay, enough for now. You raised great points. It is alright to be intellectually atheistic but spiritually theistic.

  13. Seth R. said

    I read enough dumb Supreme Court opinions during law school that I wouldn’t consider them the definitive last word on… well… just about anything.

  14. Seth R. said

    I just wish it paid as well as the popular stereotypes claim it does.

  15. Seth R. said

    I’m like a bad penny Coventry, I always turn up.

    I do recall us going the rounds two or three years ago or something. Hope you and yours are well as well.

  16. coventryrm said

    Michael

    Thanks for your comments it is a very interesting way to look at things. I think very few people are able to actually accept their “truth” as a story I think most of those in the LDS faith believe that Monson is talking to God, and all those things contained in the story are literal truths and that Church claims are in fact …. fact.

    • And therein lies the problem with Mormons including those who decide to stop building the religion as an alternative philosophy because they actually believed the story was literally true instead of an allegory and metaphor of life. Obviously Monson does not talk to God; we all know that decisions made today in the LDS Church are done by unanimous consensus of 15 guys. When you read al-Farabi you can understand why this is the case by analogy to the prophet-centered Islamic faith back when al-Farabi was living. And unfortunately the Muslim leadership rejected al-Farabi and Islam stopped improving as a religious philosophy.

      What is important is that you now understand that the story you once embraced was simply a story with some ideas that make it interesting philosophically — and that rejecting Mormonism is actually rejecting the false idea that what you believed was actually true epistemologically — all we can do epistemologically is take a pragmatic approach to the ideas in Mormonism: test them and see if they work. Unfortunately, too many Mormons are trying to convince themselves that what they believe is true and forget that they are supposed to live the story and then they can “bear their testimonies” by sharing their personal experiences vis-a-vis the efficacy of prayer, of faith, of visions, premonitions, etc. (all things found in every religion under our sun from time immemorial and none of which are “proof” that the story is “true” — only that these things do work); not utter platitudes that they “know Joseph Smith was a prophet” or that “Thomas Monson is a prophet” — really? How do you know that?

      Lastly, in Hebrews 11, the author laid it out nicely: he did not opine that we can only believe that God exists; he did not opine that we can know that God exists; he opined that we an understand that God exists. We can understand that Mormonism has as much utility in our lives as any other religion or philosophy but Mormonism offers an eschatology and teleology (as well as an interesting theodicy) that isn’t found in other religions or philosophies — and in this story if the story were true then Mormonism as an authentic Yankee pragmatic religion is definitely cool and we should not turn our backs on it, but build it and ignore other well-meaning but didactic members’ interpretation of the story: our interpretation of the story is all that matters and the hell with everyone else’s.

      QED

  17. I should add that there is nothing wrong with members of the LDS Church who believe the story is absolutely true with a capital T; these are good people and they do the hard lifting in the LDS Church. Civilization actually needs the majority of humans to think what they believe is true is true — but when they discover what they believed was True isn’t true that doesn’t give them an excuse to run away and start blaming their problems on their former religion or to engage in criticism of a story that is a fiction. They just need to slap themselves on the side of the face and realize how naive they were and then live the story — it’s like a belief in Santa Claus. When we were naive we believed Santa was real. No one told us that Santa was a symbol of anonymous giving. So we went merrily on our way waiting for Santa to show up on Christmas Eve. (The same applies to the Easter Bunny.) Then one day we realize that Santa isn’t real. Do we then put Santa behind us and mock those be still believe? No, we keep enjoying the idea of a Santa and waiting for our gifts. We know it is a story and if we are smart enough we understand the symbology and have a great time. The same applies to Mormonism and every other religion. Enjoy it after you find out it is just as story. It really isn’t that big of a deal but some of the ideas like families are forever can upset parents when their children say they reject Mormonism which is rejecting the idea that they want to be with their families forever — even though everyone knows that this can’t be proven, the sentiment is pretty strong — and this troubles parents who love their children. Blah, blah, blah. Okay, I’ve devoted way too much time to religious discussion — what a drag.

    • coventryrm said

      I think if we came across an adult that still believed in Santa and the Easter Bunny we may be tempted to giggle and perhaps mock a little. Kind of how I look at TBM’s.

      I see a lot of pragmatic problems with the picture you paint and question if it is even a feasible way to live ones life. I think trying to live in a culture that on an intellectual level you know that narrative it is based upon is implausible and the leaders of the organization hold it up to be something that it clearly is not is a pretty disingenuous lifestyle. No Thanks.

      I could also give example upon example that the little family are forever stories and this absolute belief that the LDS Church is indeed true held by the majority of the LDS faith has just as much a dark side as you claim it has a good side our respective opinions are obviously based on the differences of our life’s experience so we will just have to politely disagree with one another.

      • Michael R.E. Sanders said

        I was referring the children with respect to my Santa analogy; not adults. In this context, having the faith of a little child applies but at some time we have to stop thinking and speaking as a child. Adults understand the difference between “faith” and “knowledge.” Knowledge destroys faith.

        I’d like to know the pragmatic problems you see — the history of reconciling fact and faith is, according to William James, “to a great extent that of a certain clash of human temperaments” between the “tough-minded” and the “tender minded.” The tough minded have an empiricist commitment to experience and going by ‘the facts’, while the tender-minded have more of a taste for a priori principles which appeal to the mind. The tender minded tend to be idealistic, optimistic and religious, while the tough minded are normally materialist, pessimistic and irreligious. The tender-minded are ‘free-willist’ and dogmatic; the tough minded are ‘fatalistic’ and skeptical. Hence, for the pragmatist, people need a philosophy that is both empiricist in its adherence to facts yet finds room for religious belief — but what we typically find is “an empirical philosophy that is not religious enough and a religious philosophy that is not empirical enough for [our] purpose.”

        The challenge is to show how to reconcile ‘the scientific loyalty to facts’ with ‘the old confidence in human values and the resultant spontaneity, whether of the religious or of the romantic type.’ We must reconcile empiricist epistemic responsibility with moral and religious optimism. Pragmatism is presented as the ‘mediating philosophy’ that enables us to overcome the distinction between the tender-minded and the tough-minded: we need to show how adherence to tough-minded epistemic standards does not prevent our adopting the kind of worldview to which the tender-minded aspire. Once we use what philosophers such as James introduced as the ‘pragmatic method’ to clarify our understanding of truth, of free will, or of religious belief the disputes—which we despaired of settling intellectually—begin to dissolve. For James and me, then, Pragmatism is important because it offers a way of overcoming the dilemma, a way of seeing that, for example, science, morality and religion are not in competition. You can accept a story you like without it having to be empirically “true” — as James put it:

        “[T]he tangible fact at the root of all our thought-distinctions, however subtle, is that there is no one of them so fine as to consist in anything but a possible difference of practice. To attain perfect clearness in our thoughts of an object, then, we need only consider what conceivable effects of a practical kind the object may involve—what sensations we are to expect from it, and what reactions we must prepare.” Hence, when I refer to pragmatism I mean a pragmatism with a distinctive epistemological outlook, one which rejects the Cartesian focus upon the importance of defeating skepticism while endorsing the fallibilist view that any of our beliefs and methods could, in principle, turn out to be flawed.

        If we believe Mormonism is “true,” then it could turn out to be a flawed belief or simply a story — a story we liked. Pragmatically speaking, the practical consequence of embracing a story or proposition can be simply the effect that story has upon a “believer”: that is, if religious belief (or a belief in Santa or the Easter Bunny) makes me feel better, then that can contribute to the pragmatic clarification of “God exists” or “Mormonism is true.” In short, this is a principle of metaphysics.

        So it is feasible to live a pragmatic life. Certainly, by definition, religions have to take the position that their story is true and typically the only true story. We however have to understand that the founders of all religions have told us to accept this premise on faith alone. Hence, we can choose a story we like and agree that if its teachings were true then that would be most excellent. It is not a disingenuous life-stye: it is an honest life-style.

        Of course you can give me examples of members of the LDS Church who absolutely believe that the LDS Churs is indeed true. That is the problem. Those who leave the Church are typically the same ones who at one time were so stupid as to think or believe that the LDS Church was true. So this perversion of “faith,” is what produces the dark side. But with every dark side, there is a bright side. Our responsibility is to always walk on the sunny side of doubt and not to be judgmental. In fact, he is what Mormons are supposed to believe vis-a-vis other members and non-members: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” Now if Mormons actually lived this principle then if a member wanted to worship in his or her own way this would be acceptable — every Mormon has the right to worship how, where, or what they may. That is the story — now certainly if we accept someone’s interpretation of the foregoing then we are not accepting the Mormon story but a different story.

        I don’t think we are in disagreement except that you keep bringing up examples of those who think the story is absolutely true which is unhelpful. Bring up examples of members who like the story and hope that it is true but who are intelligent enough to understand that they are accepting this story on faith alone: it may or may not be true. As Joseph Smith, Jr. opined in pertinent part if what we believe is false and we end up in “hell” then we will just kick all the devils out and make Hell into Heaven. I cited this quote in an earlier post. This is the attitude we should have.

        Now is it painful to go to church with a bunch of closed minded members who think everything is black and white and that if you don’t agree with their version of the story then you are evil? Of course. I spent years arguing that once again the Blacks would receive the priesthood, for example, and finally the Church went back to its early roots and once again ordained all worthy men — of course, they made it sound as if this was something new when it wasn’t. I also had heated discussions with the less enlightened on various topics that I was told were wrong because they had not been canonized — well, gee whiz, a few decades later they were canonized and added to the D&C. It is painful for the intellectual in our Church — so don’t go to so many meetings.

        But you don’t have to flush your story down the toilet because the majority of people are “tender-minded.”

        Okay, we can disagree — I think I am more tough-minded than you. You sound like a tender-minded man who has been disappointed when he realized he was tough-minded and then he couldn’t keep two inconsistent ideas in his head at the same time. I don’t mean this in the pejorative. It can be a great disappointment to find out that Santa Claus isn’t true, the Easter Bunny isn’t true, and the LDS Church isn’t true, but that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying the story of all three.

        Take care. And I hope you have found a story you like — even atheism is just a story. I normally advise people to take a Zen approach to life and live in the moment; don’t speculate on what happened before life and what happens after — who cares? What will be will be — instead focus on living in the moment. The past doesn’t even exist because our memories are so unreliable and the future doesn’t exist until we get there in the present. Also, holy books are unnecessary because everything we need to know is already within us — we just need to meditate and look inward (Mormons call this listening the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost). All the stories when you strip out the teleology and the eschatology are all the same (except for those butchering thug Muslims extremists). Sometimes it is alright to be in the Church but not of the Church — and we can love the TBM who are trying to live good lives and who hope for a better future. I’m not going to destroy their faith — this is why I like to sometimes talk to ex-Mormons who have already had their faith destroyed in the LDS Church — I just want to try to make them think how silly they are when they left the Church instead of hanging around a making it better. Blah, blah, blah.

        “You have inquisitiveness and tenderness. You are sensible to the distinction between thinking and doubting. But best of all you do not have that bumptious security that springs from dogma rather than from faith.” (A. J. Cronin, Keys of the Kingdom.)

    • coventryrm said

      Well I guess then that the only thing we disagree on is if I “Should” have left Mormonism or that it was silly (Best thing I ever did) … didn’t like the story much ..didn’t work for me…. I think I was just more relieved when I finally figured things out

      I can only give you examples of TBM’s as that is what one will experience within the culture 99% of the time and that is why this blog even exists. If the Mormons I can’t escape (Immediate family) were of the “Belief” mindset rather than the “Know” I would have most likely never looked back in regards to Mormonism …. but for me this blog is just a fun little outlet were I can lampoon those that have rejected, shunned and judged me. Oh well…. and also Mormonism just has so much low hanging fruit to pick from to mock or lampoon it is just to hard to resist.

      Thanks for the dialogue wish more of my immediate family shared your perspective.

      • Michael R.E. Sanders said

        I like that. I think the bottom-line is that you never did leave Mormonism except perhaps in form. Mormonism shaped you. I suspect you gained a lot from Mormonism as well: work ethic, willingness to help the poor, and perhaps you still engage in a prayer once in a while, etc. Once you realize that you simply believed a story was true then you were happy: ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. In your case, you had to physically get away so you could accept the reality that you had believed in a story that had chained you because you accepted a version that others pushed onto you — so of course the story didn’t work for you unless you studied the good books of the earth, etc., and you just thought that had nothing to do with the story. So relief comes when you figure out the reality and stop believing in the illusion.

        I’m just saying that you can do that without leaving or thinking that your are relieved because you left your ancestors’ religion. We can figure things out while we are in the Church and we don’t need to leave to have fun laughing at some of the stupidity of the members including many of the GAs.

        I am happy for you figuring things out.

        As a convert, with my attitude, I can’t understand how some members allowed their membership to get them down. I mean we don’t have to go to church meetings; we don’t have to pay tithing; we don’t have to abstain from hot drinks, etc.; we don’t have to home teach; we can disagree with the BS; we really don’t have to do anything to be a Mormon except think that being a nice person is a good idea, we should get good grades in school, be a hard worker, and think the eschatology is cool if it were true (which we will never know). I admit in most meetings I have leave early before going into a permanent coma but the members for the most part are nice and I go fishing with some, etc. I don’t see how leaving the club changes anything unless we have a bad attitude or we take the story too seriously or think it is true.

        I don’t pay attention to the members who think they know it all and try to push their stupidity onto me. Most if not all enjoy when I share my views and point out the foolishness of their unsubstantiated preconceived ideas that have no basis in fact. Heck, I even have to point out what the Temple Endowment actually says that contradicts a lot of what we hear in Sunday School and in General Conference — and they are all amazed. What? They don’t listen and think critically? (Of course, being a Freemason gives me a leg up on a lot of the symbology used (and eliminated) with the average Mormon (who has no clue what is going on in the ritual and why a ritual is used, etc..)

        It has to be hard to have a family that doesn’t understand or live their own religion — there is no way any Mormon is ever supposed to belittle or criticize anyone for their belief system for example — including children. In critical thinking, we have what is called the “charity principle.” Basically, we cut non-critical thinkers a lot of slack and try to understand what they are trying to argue — we don’t attack their inability to think logically for example. I think we have to use the charity principle with our families.

        Now . . . lampooning the ignorance of the average Mormon is worthwhile — mocking not so much.

        One of my sons who takes after his father but lacks some of the sophistication told me that when he started pointing out the problems with his friends’ interpretation of Mormon philosophy and told them that he didn’t think the story was “True,” but that it was “Good,” they started shunning him. His good friends from the mission field turned out to be jack-asses: too insecure in their beliefs I suppose. So I understand your point.

        Next time you are with your family and they start to give you a hard time, maybe you can take my approach and surprise them when you agree with them and accept the story knowing that you don’t know it was absolutely true and it is great that they think they do. They no longer need faith because they know it all. They probably read books about their religion written by others and those books influence how they interpret the core texts of the story. They probably don’t realize that the LDS Church never made a big thing of the Book of Mormon until Pres. Benson — it was simply a book that supposedly showed that Christ visited the Americas and it was full of good philosophical advice explained in story form; or that the Book of Abraham was never “scripture,” until sometime in the 1920s; it was just a “translation” that had some interesting ideas. How many have ever thought that the Holy Ghost in the Mormon idea of Godhood is feminine?

        Okay, there is lots to laugh about: I like the question of having sex as a resurrected being (as if there weren’t a more efficient way of creating spirits with thousands of wives). If those who are resurrected have bodies of flesh and bone but no blood, then does that mean they are resurrected with a permanent erection if they have Celestial bodies? And going further if they have “perfect” bodies then does a perfect orgasm ever end? Just asking.

        I think someday if you ever rejoin the club, you can have fun calling yourself a Mormon but don’t ever drink the blue kook-aid.

        Take care — it was a pleasure dialoguing with you.

      • skiutah said

        For me, 25+ or so years ago I decided that I no longer thought Mormonism was true. I was perfectly happy to leave Mormonism and never look back. I felt like I had belonged to the flat-earth-church society and finally discovered the universe was multi-dimensional. That was a very happy moment in my life. I had hoped that my Mormon friends and family would accept that. But they did not. They met my new found belief with threats, ostracism, shunning, hateful behavior, personal attacks, and so on.

        I have hundreds of examples of the bad behavior. I’ll list a few here to make the point: parents that refuse to visit when a new child is born because the child isn’t getting blessed as a Mormon. Or family members that take great delight whenever I have any problems of any kind, because they are sure the Lord is punishing me and if I would only come back to Mormonism then the Lord would stop punishing me.

        I left the Mormon church 25+ years ago, and am still pestered by local Mormons. Somehow my children are on the local church membership lists even though they’ve never been inside a Mormon church. The Mormon missionaries and local bishop stop by and won’t take no for an answer. I even had my name removed church records, but they still keep coming.

        So my Mormon angst is two-fold: 1) the Mormon church culture is very destructive in regards to family relationships when one decides to leave Mormonism. 2) the Mormon church won’t physically leave me alone; they continue to knock on the door, send letters, and call on the phone.

        If you’ve never experienced the above behavior, you wouldn’t think it would be possible for it to exist. If you are a Mormon and have never seen members behave like the above, you’re probably either a convert or don’t live in I-15 corridor (or some other area with a large Mormon population).

        I participate in CoventryRM’s blog to poke fun at the ridiculousness of it all. If the Mormons are going to cause me misery, then I might as well have a good belly laugh once in a while with the vast amount of material that they provide. 🙂

  18. Michael R.E. Sanders said

    You are too funny — that’s the way I feel about organized religion in general. I never thought Mormonism was true when I was baptized; I just liked the story. I spent most of my study time as a missionary studying philosophy which made me a much better missionary; the only “scripture” I used were the ones in the lesson plan. I did however parse the Book of Mormon carefully and discovered all the different schools of philosophy embedded in its text once you get past all the quotes from Isaiah, etc. I then studied all the different religions of the world and learned a lot which helped me understand my own story. I stopped looking for a water buffalo while riding a water buffalo.

    One of my brothers, at our father’s funeral, called me a blasphemer — and my brother is a born-again rock and roll for Jesus fanatic; he attacks my Catholic siblings all the time telling them they are going to hell and that his way is the only way. My father’s Catholic funeral was nice, very nice.

    So Mormons don’t have a lock on being obnoxious — but most Mormons are nice people. I mean I’m a Mormon and I’m nice. LOL I think it is cool that you have inculcated one facet of Mormonism by studying the good and best books of the earth and discovering the universe is multi-dimensional and you didn’t need to stay in the Platonic Cave of most Mormons. Welcome fellow-traveler. I just think you didn’t need to leave Mormonism — but, yes, I understand it all depends on one’s interpretation of Mormonism and whether one is stuck in the false dichotomy that a religion must be either true or false instead of simply good or bad on a personal subjective level. For you, your experience with Mormonism was bad — baaaad to the bone bad.

    Knowing the truth (that we don’t know much and most of what we think we know is simply what we believe or understand based on limited information) does make us free. Another core idea of Mormonism that most misunderstand or reject.

    I am amazed at the examples of bad behavior. Why would grandparents refuse to visit when a new child is born if the child isn’t going to be given a blessing (that doesn’t make the baby a Mormon btw)? If they actually believed their religion was “True,” then they would realize that this is the only time in eternity that they will have to spend with their “heathen” grandchild and they should make the most of it. The fact is that they really don’t understand their own religion and this makes them act in a less than Christ like manner. Now this is easy for me because when I was born I wasn’t born in an LDS family and when I was growing up I wasn’t a Mormon and I was a very nice person — so being a Mormon is less important than being a good human. Some people define themselves by the religion they belong to instead of defining themselves as sons and daughters of God and members of the human race. This example is totally wrong.

    As for the schadenfreude example, here again, your family doesn’t get it. They need to read D&C 122 or the first verse of the Book of Mormon: all the “bad” stuff that happens to us gives us experience and is for our good (the LDS existentialist scripture). God has never promised to protect us from trials and tribulations; in fact, according to LDS orthodoxy the whole reason we are here is to get a body and then be tested (suffer). Nephi allegedly wrote that even though he had suffered terrible afflictions all the days of his life he was nevertheless highly blessed by God. Taking a Zen approach, this fleshes out D&C 122 and the first verse of the Book of Mormon: what we think is bad turns out to be good and vice versa. We don’t judge what happens to us, we simply learn from it. Besides, being also a stoic, and an existentialist, having adversity makes us strong. Of course, I am always having to correct primary teachers who try to indoctrinate children with the falsehood that if they live the “commandments” nothing bad will happen to them. So this example is totally wrong. (Wrong in that your family has some serious problems in professing to be good Mormons but not acting the part.)

    Yeah, the Church recordkeeping department has its problems, but I suspect that your parents or other family members keep pestering your bishop to send the missionaries over — this is the only explanation. When the Church calls me regarding some of my inactive children asking for their addresses, I never give out the address.

    I think you have things tuned upside down. Your Mormon angst has nothing to do with the LDS Church or Mormon eschatology; it has to do with your family culture which is very destructive in regards to family relationships when one of their children decides to leave Mormonism — your family is not living the “restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s time to call a spade a spade. And it is not the Mormon Church that won’t leave you alone — it is your family telling your bishop to send over the home teachers and missionaries (although the missionaries may just randomly show up once in a while). Most bishops probably don’t know you are no longer a member but just assume your records are lost (which is most often the case once a person goes inactive and moves a few times). Still, even when you tell a bishop to back off the problem is that a new bishop is called and no one tells him. It is a problem but the source of the problem is your family.

    I did move out of SLC over 25 years ago — and I will never go back. Being in the hinterlands is great — among a lot of converts who were wild and crazy guys before they converted and they are fun to be around.

    Hey, at least I understand where you are coming from — it is ridiculous when people mix things up: confusing symbols for reality; thinking their story is true when it is simply a story they accept based on subjective faith; etc. Poke fun at it in a fun way. Keep in mind though that the vast majority of Mormons would give you the shirt off their backs willingly. So criticize the person but not the group.

    Whatever.

  19. […] There are thousands of similar experiences out there: https://coventryrm.wordpress.com/about/ http://20truths.info/ http://wakeupmormons.blogspot.com Mormonism Get Thee Behind Me […]

  20. Good day! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: