Letter to a Doubter important essay from Mormon scholar Givens

(To see Cal Grondahl’s cartoon that goes with this post, click here.) LDS author and scholar Terryl Givens’ “Letter to a Doubter” has been widely circulated since he presented the essay/lecture in a speech to a Mormon fireside last fall. The push to acknowledge doubt in one’s spiritual life, indeed to regard the “absence of certainty” as a component of true faith, has gained traction. In LDS General Conference earlier this month, Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland told those that believe, but do not know, that they are following Christ’s counsel, who said, “Be not afraid, only believe.” (Read)
Givens’ essay is fascinating, and ideally suitable for this era, which is seeing apostasies that result from intense, appropriate scrutiny to long-held assumptions. He begins by pointing out that some “doubts … are predicated on misbegotten premises.” As an example he relates the doubt that troubled late LDS leader B.H. Roberts, who fretted over the many languages of the American Indians. Roberts’ error, which he shared with many church leaders, was assuming that the Book of Mormon spanned the entire Americas. Givens writes, “Nothing in the Book of Mormon suggests that Lehi’s colony expanded to fill the hemisphere. In fact, … the entire history of the Book of Mormon takes place within an area of Nephite and Lamanite habitation some 500 miles long and perhaps 200 miles wide.

The money quote from Givens is this: “You see, even brilliant individuals and ordained Seventies can buy into careless assumptions that lead them astray. That Joseph Smith at some point entertained similar notions about Book of Mormon geography only makes it more imperative for members not to take every utterance of any leader as inspired doctrine.” For longstanding Mormons, that is not necessarily an easy transition. Authority is big in the church, and the words of a general authority, let alone an apostle or prophet, can be a debate-finisher.

But understanding that all people are fallible, as well as a realization that doubt is a component of true faith, are main themes of Givens’ advice. It’s well-needed, because, the LDS Church is losing young adults who are confronted, in an Internet-archived world, with contradictions that can easily dent weak faith that relies on claims of certainty.

Givens offers five components of belief that can lead to doubt. In The Prophetic Mantle, he reminds readers that the Scriptures, including The Bible, are full of prophets who err. They include Abraham. Moses, Jonah, and Paul. Givens writes, citing LDS Prophet Spencer W. Kimball’s repudiation of Brigham Young’s Adam-God heresy as an example, “… when Pres. Woodruff said the Lord would never suffer his servants to lead the people astray, we can only reasonably interpret that to mean the prophet will not teach us any soul destroying doctrine—not that they will never err.” Again, this addresses the incorrect assumption that whenever a prophet speaks, he is absolutely correct. This weak idea is easily disproved — just read many of Brigham Young’s discourses — but it can do damage to persons who demand no errors in their belief.

Another issue Givens addresses is the mistaken idea that God was silent on issues of theology, and that the Christian church was inactive, for centuries prior to 1820, when Joseph Smith received the First Vision. Instead, Givens urges those with doubts to see Smith’s mission not as starting over, but “that of bringing it all into one coherent whole, not reintroducing the gospel ex nihilo.”

The third part of Givens’ essay addresses the idea of “Mormon Exclusivity,” or the assumption that in a world of several billion, a few million Mormons have a “monopoly on salvation.” Givens then points out something that I deeply appreciate about my religion, that it offers salvation to virtually all of God’s children. He writes, “… the most generous, liberal, and universalist conception of salvation in all Christendom is Joseph Smith’s view.” Givens stresses the theology that “here and hereafter, a multitude of non-Mormons will participate in the Church of the Firstborn.”

The final two points of Givens’ essay are a rebuttal to the idea that organized religion is unnecessary and the misbegotten assumption that belief automatically brings personal satisfaction and personal revelations of truth. He explains that the gospel of Christ is a message that invites inclusion, and sharing, and spiritual sociality that exists on the earth, will exist in the afterlife. He writes, “In this light, the project of perfection, or purification and sanctification, is not a scheme for personal advancement, but a process of better filling — and rejoicing in — our role in what Paul called the body of Christ …

As for the personal feelings of failure, disappointment, despair, and general unhappiness, traits that do not go away even when we profess a belief, Givens advises “three simple ideas: be patient, remember and take solace in the fellowship of the desolate.”

As Givens continues, “Patience does not mean to wait apathetically and dejectedly, but to anticipate actively on the basis of what we know; and what we know we must remember.”

Memory is a powerful component of faith and belief. One reason we are taught to gather in organized churches is to participate in the Sacrament, where we remember what Christ’s sacrifice has done for us.

And, as Givens relates, membership in the Society of the Desolate is something to be proud of. Its members include Mother Teresa, whom Givens quotes, said “I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. … Heaven from every side is closed.”

If we take nothing else from “Letter to a Doubter,” please understand that even the most spiritual feel spiritually alone, not rarely but often. That too, is a test of faith.

In his conclusion, Givens urges that we be “grateful” for our doubts. He adds, “I am grateful for a propensity to doubt because it gives me the capacity to freely believe. … An overwhelming preponderance of evidence on either side would make our choice as meaningless as would a loaded gun pointed at our heads.”

I lack the talents Givens possesses to do justice to his discourse/essay, so I urge readers, again, to read it carefully. It’s important that we not allow our doubt to be exploited by others, but use it as an advantage designed to strengthen our spiritual beliefs.

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147 Responses to Letter to a Doubter important essay from Mormon scholar Givens

  1. Michael Trujillo says:

    “And, as Givens’ relates, membership is the Society of the Desolate is something to be proud of.”

    Is there a word missing or a typo in this sentence? I can’t make sense of it.

  2. Greg Clark says:

    ^Michael: “And, as Givens’ relates, membership *in* the Society of the Desolate is something to be proud of.”

  3. Greg Clark says:

    Or, more completely, ^Michael: “And, as Givens’ [essay] relates, membership *in* the Society of the Desolate is something to be proud of.”

    Or, “…as Givens relates…” (without the apostrophe).

  4. Steve Stones says:

    Greg, did you read Gerald Boyum’s letter to the editor in The Standard Examiner last week? I think you need to respond to it.

  5. Erick says:

    Given’s letter comes across as simply self-absorbed. There is not one shred of substance, despite the fact that he managed to use fifteen pages of ink to generalize (at view of about 100,000 ft) a few issues and then attempted a wearing down of the reader with bald sentimental reasoning.

    He argues, for example, that BH Robert’s could have solved all of his problems had he just accepted the limited geography theory. Given’s is careful to note that The Book of Mormon doesn’t say the “promised land” was inhabited (though he fails to acknowledge that the Book is also silent about defending Given’s preferred proposition, that it was inhabited), and only alludes to the fact that Joseph Smith was the one who was marching all over the mid-west and stating by Prophecy, that the Book of Mormon people did in fact spread at least from Missouri to New York! Now how does he defend this? With the old, not everything a Prophet say’s is revelation, defense. It’s a pathetic generalization because he ignores, intentionally I think, the reality that Joseph Smith was clearly Prophesying. Anybody familiar with the “Zelph” incident would have to shake their head at the idea that Joseph Smith was not attempting to prophesy. What kind of “opinion” comes out by labeling the remains of a corpse with the person’s name, job-title, and the name of their manager, in the “last great battle” between the Nephites and Lamanites? Now, of course, the bigger problem in all of this is that Given’s only allows the “doubter” in this article to consider essentially two geography theories, ie, large geography vs limited geography. However, his arguments rest on the assumption that the doubter should not consider a third and more plausible theory, ie, the “no geography theory”. That’s the one that considers the possibility that The Book of Mormon events occurred nowhere in physical reality.
    The letter pretends to treat the doubters concerns with “dignity”, but consider this point from his “letter to Doubter”:
    …Most cripplingly, however, is the false expectations this paradigm sets up; when Pres. Woodruff said the Lord would never suffer his servants to lead the people astray, we can only reasonably interpret that to mean the prophet will not teach us any soul destroying doctrine—not that they will never err.” (Page 5).
    Is there any real desire here to sympathize with the doubter, even if Given’s himself doesn’t doubt? Why is Given’s attempted clarification of President Woodruff’s statement the “reasonable interpretation”? It is because if the statement was intended to have broader application then we encounter contradictions. However, Given’s though offering lip service to the doubter, here robs him/her of their evidence for doubt by taking the prerogative to act as interlocutor for President Woodruff, and providing an ad hoc interpretation that entirely depends on Given’s pre-determined conclusion. Not because the conclusion is objectively obvious or “reasonable”, or most likely, from the doubters perspective, but because Given’s is actually by pass reasonable doubt.
    The entire letter reads this way, though from here the “evidence” goes down, and the sentimental appeal to human emotion and scripture goes through the roof. With all due respect Doug, as a doubter this is the worst kind of effort at assuaging difficulties with the Church!

    • Trevor says:

      Your lengthy response comes across as self-absorbed and filled with hyperbole. Givens’ letter has its flaws and short-comings, but your reading of it is very superficial.

    • Brian Utley says:

      My reaction exactly. Much ado about smoke and mirrors. Givens’ stock took a beating in my portfolio over this one. I was shocked.

  6. Erick says:

    (Sorry the formatting got a little weird on my first effort. I am reposting for clarity, but this is a repeat).

    Given’s letter comes across as simply self-absorbed. There is not one shred of substance, despite the fact that he managed to use fifteen pages of ink to generalize (at view of about 100,000 ft) a few issues and then attempted a wearing down of the reader with bald sentimental reasoning.

    He argues, for example, that BH Robert’s could have solved all of his problems had he just accepted the limited geography theory. Given’s is careful to note that The Book of Mormon doesn’t say the “promised land” was inhabited (though he fails to acknowledge that the Book is also silent about defending Given’s preferred proposition, that it was inhabited), and only alludes to the fact that Joseph Smith was the one who was marching all over the mid-west and stating by Prophecy, that the Book of Mormon people did in fact spread at least from Missouri to New York! Now how does he defend this? With the old, not everything a Prophet say’s is revelation, defense. It’s a pathetic generalization because he ignores, intentionally I think, the reality that Joseph Smith was clearly Prophesying. Anybody familiar with the “Zelph” incident would have to shake their head at the idea that Joseph Smith was not attempting to prophesy. What kind of “opinion” comes out by labeling the remains of a corpse with the person’s name, job-title, and the name of their manager, in the “last great battle” between the Nephites and Lamanites? Now, of course, the bigger problem in all of this is that Given’s only allows the “doubter” in this article to consider essentially two geography theories, ie, large geography vs limited geography. However, his arguments rest on the assumption that the doubter should not consider a third and more plausible theory, ie, the “no geography theory”. That’s the one that considers the possibility that The Book of Mormon events occurred nowhere in physical reality.

    The letter pretends to treat the doubters concerns with “dignity”, but consider this point from his “letter to Doubter”:

    …Most cripplingly, however, is the false expectations this paradigm sets up; when Pres. Woodruff said the Lord would never suffer his servants to lead the people astray, we can only reasonably interpret that to mean the prophet will not teach us any soul destroying doctrine—not that they will never err.” (Page 5).

    Is there any real desire here to sympathize with the doubter, even if Given’s himself doesn’t doubt? Why is Given’s attempted clarification of President Woodruff’s statement the “reasonable interpretation”? It is because if the statement was intended to have broader application then we encounter contradictions. However, Given’s though offering lip service to the doubter, here robs him/her of their evidence for doubt by taking the prerogative to act as interlocutor for President Woodruff, and providing an ad hoc interpretation that entirely depends on Given’s pre-determined conclusion. Not because the conclusion is objectively obvious or “reasonable”, or most likely, from the doubters perspective, but because Given’s is actually by pass reasonable doubt.

    The entire letter reads this way, though from here the “evidence” goes down, and the sentimental appeal to human emotion and scripture goes through the roof. With all due respect Doug, as a doubter this is the worst kind of effort at assuaging difficulties with the Church!

  7. Brian says:

    I’m so sorry, but it extremely difficult to believe in the credibility of scholars who believe in a book that:
    1) was translated by a man looking at a rock in a hat;
    2) describes a people/civilization in the Americas, that was here for 2500 years, but left behind not even a piece of pottery let alone villages, cities and temples (not a single, teeny item of archaeology)—who cares how limited the geography!
    3) had its golden plate source documents, taken into heaven by an angel.

    This is not a leap of faith, this is a jump off the cliff of reality.

    • Calvin says:

      Brian, how do we account for the three & eight witness? To the best of my knowledge none of these people profited by their testimonies. Many of these 11 at one point left the church but never denied their testimony.

      • Duwayne Anderson says:

        Witnesses are a dime a dozen. Without doubt I could find a dozen witnesses who would testify that they could remove cancerous organs from the human body using bare hands and leaving no scar. I could find even more witnesses who would attest to having been taken aboard a UFO; still more who would swear to having seen Big Foot.

        The assertion about money is a strawman. Money isn’t the only motivator. Furthermore, many witnesses actually *believe.* Part of the error in the story about the BOM witnesses is that if (the BOM) must be true if they (the witnesses) honestly believed. But that’s demonstrably false — people passionately believe falsehoods all the time.

        Having said all that, the whole story about the witnesses is thin as tissue paper. First of all, there’s no signed testimony — and without a signed testimony there’re no witnesses in the first place; just a typed statement with typed names.

        Secondly, the witnesses *did* reject the testimony that the Church prints. That printed testimony asserts that the three witnesses saw with their eyes, but credible historical evidence supports the claim that they saw the plates only in “vision.”

        Well, you can see pretty much anything you want in a vision.

        In the end, if eight, a dozen, or a thousand “witnesses” attest to something that is demonstrably false by virtue of verifiable and objective evidence, the witnesses should be written off as fallible humans with fallible minds.

        And when it comes to verifiable and objective evidence, the Book of Mormon is sunk because the Book of Mormon describes an ancient America that simply didn’t exist.

        The Book of Mormon describes ancient Americans domesticating Old World plants, horses, cattle, and swine (among others). It describes advanced metallurgy — including the smelting of steel. It describes ancient Americans writing many, many records using Hebrew and Egyptian derivatives — yet there isn’t a single scientifically authentic ancient American text that is written in those languages, describing those technologies, animals, plants, or the names of the kings, judges, or prophets found in the Book of Mormon.

        Then, there’s the direct evidence against the Book of Mormon. For example, numerical analysis of month dates in the Book of Mormon shows that the history is is fabricated. The names in the Book of Mormon are either anachronistic or of Biblical origin — and there is a complete lack of such names among actual ancient Americans. The Book of Mormon reproduces by “revelation” known errors in the KJV. The list goes on and on.

        The Book of Mormon isn’t just any old fraud — it’s a clumsy fraud that any rational/honest person with a three-digit IQ can discover given an hour or two in any reasonably well-equipped library. Given the technical problems with the “witnesses” and the way they *did* deny the testimony that was written for them, by Smith, their “testimony” isn’t worth the paper it’s written upon.

        • trytoseeitmyway says:

          Ah, there it is. A guy who only believes the evidence that fits his preconceived ideas.

          • Duwayne Anderson says:

            Bass akwards. I was born into the LDS Church, served a mission, graduated from BYU, married in the temple, and was active well into my 30s. I changed my mind about Mormonism after examining the facts.

            Furthermore, I’d change it back again — if the facts demanded it.

            How about you? What verifiable and objective evidence, if it existed, would be sufficient for you to denounce Mormonism?

      • Brian says:

        Man, get a grip. 2500 years of habitation and not even a piece of pottery. It’s not conceivable. Even the most rudimentary native cultures left something behind. Your witnesses may have seen some plates, or something like them, but there were no “Nephites” or “Lamanites” on this continent. The Romans were around for 1,000 years and look what they left in half the time. You need to really dig deep and imagine if this was not your religion. Let’s say two missionaries from Australia came to your door and said that Bob Lewis was a true prophet from God and you have a book that tells the world that there was a 2500 year old civilization in Australia that nobody knows about and for which there is absolutely no shred of evidence.And that Bob Lewis translated the source documents, made of white leather, by putting a special marble in his goblet. But then an angel took the white leather to heaven. Now you know how the rest of us feel! We don’t really care how many witnesses saw the “white leather.”

  8. D. Michael Martindale says:

    “An overwhelming preponderance of evidence on either side would make our choice as meaningless as would a loaded gun pointed at our heads.”

    In the search for truth, evidence is a liability? What hogwash! The only ones who want to discount evidence as an important part of the search for truth–indeed the most vital part–are those who fear their faith cannot stand up to scrutiny.

    “… when Pres. Woodruff said the Lord would never suffer his servants to lead the people astray, we can only reasonably interpret that to mean the prophet will not teach us any soul destroying doctrine—not that they will never err.”

    More hogwash. Givens is apparently a binary thinker: things are either this or that. He doesn’t seem to comprehend the idea that there could be multiple interpretations to things.

    One interpretation is, Woodruff meant prophets can’t err. Since this is obviously false, Givens must go on to the next one: the prophet can err, but not too much.

    He calls this the only remaining reasonable interpretation. But how about this one…?

    Woodruff had renounced polygamy after previous prophets had said polygamy is essential for exaltation and the church would cease to be the church if it were renounced. Members knew these doctrines, so were greatly disturbed at the Official Manifesto (as it was called then).

    Here’s the third possible interpretation:

    Woodruff made that statement about prophets not being able to lead the church astray as a political ploy to bolster his authority when the church generally was disturbed about his official pronouncement. He made the statement of his own accord for self-serving reasons.

    If you ask me, that third one is the most reasonable interpretation.

    And this is just what I noticed without reading the actual letter yet.

    • trytoseeitmyway says:

      By all means, read the actual letter then. But your first objection is that Givens celebrates ontological uncertainty, and then you accuse him of being a binary thinker. Those two don’t usually go together.

      • Duwayne Anderson says:

        It seems that the ontological uncertainty allowed by Givens is expressly for the purpose of maintaining the binary thinking that the “church is true.”

        Among apologists, there’s just no room for ontological uncertainty about the essential truthfulness of Mormonism.

        If there really were any ontological uncertainty about the truthfulness of Mormonism, then Mormons would be able to describe the verifiable and objective evidence that (if it existed) would be sufficient to disprove Mormonism. But, as we’ve seen in this discussion, Mormons won’t do that. For Mormons, there is no uncertainty about the one black-and-white principle to which they subscribe: the church is true. Even Mormon prophets and scripture can be sacrificed in order to further the mantra that “the church is true.”

  9. Wayne Dequer says:

    Thank you for the thoughtful article and link. I suspect a certain amount of doubt is normal. In the New Testament the Apostle Thomas was skeptical of the Resurrection. The Lord appeared to him to assuage his doubts and any reproof was certainly gentle (John 20). Sometimes members seem to feel they have to say “I know” rather than “I have faith,” “I believe,” or “I hope.” Doing so they sometimes erode their precious integrity. Which would be more pleasing to God: Somewhat false claims of knowledge or sincere expressions of faith, hope and charity? I love the words of the frightened father of a troubled and/or possessed child, who said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) Alma 32 suggests that faith is more important than knowledge. Perhaps faith is a belief so strong that we act (are faithful) in spite of some doubts. Knowledge without doubt may, OR MAY NOT, lead to righteous attitudes and actions.

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      Wayne, you sound just like those nice little old ladies that I met on my mission — the ones who were born Catholic and would die Catholic. The only difference is that you are as stuck on Mormonism as they were on Catholicism.

      As missionaries, we would explain how it’s more important to be devoted to truth, than to ideology. But it didn’t matter; they had their religion; their minds were made up; nothing else mattered. When they heard things that challenged their religion, they would simply pray to god to “help” their unbelief.

      Isn’t it interesting that what goes around comes around?

      • trytoseeitmyway says:

        Of course you sound the same way. But you would presumably say, in response, that you used your vast intellectual powers (c’mon, admit it, you admire yourself that way) to escape from any transcendental belief. Good for you. I mean, spiritual journeys are important.

        Still, the importance of spiritual journeys implies that we don’t come to a resting place in them. Nor should we conclude a priori that our existence is ephemeral and lacking in meaning. The idea that science somehow forces us to reach that conclusion completely misunderstands science.

        • Duwayne Anderson says:

          It sounds like you subscribe to the epistemology of the infallible mind. That is, it sounds like your personal “spiritual” experiences trump everything else.

          If I’m wrong, would you mind describing for me the verifiable and objective evidence that (if it existed) would be sufficient for you to denounce Mormonism?

          • trytoseeitmyway says:

            See, I think that evidences what Mr. Martindale calls binary thinking.

            In other words, I don’t think (as you suspect) that spiritual experience “trumps” everything else. (Beware of people whose philosophical thoughts can only be expressed in metaphor. “Trump” is a term from the game of bridge. To know how the bridge analogy applies to the present context would require the degree of precision that you’re trying to avoid.)

            On the other hand, I think it is perfectly clear that spiritual truth is not a matter of empiricism, at least not as conventionally understood. That seems to be what Givens is saying too.

            Empiricism (“objective and verifiable evidence”) works for phenomena. It is less instructive in connection with the interpretation or meaning of phenomena. There are some interpretations that can be reduced to testable hypotheses. These are strongly preferred in scientific inquiry. But it is understood that a testable hypothesis, even after multiple experiments yield results that are consistent with the hypothesis, is never regarded as proven; it is still only accepted tentatively with the understanding that contradictory evidence could yet emerge.

            The fact that the scientific method requires testable hypothesis does not mean, therefore, that only testable hypotheses can be accepted as statements of truth. There are reasons why empiricists would prefer only to accept testable hypotheses as statement of truth, but that preference is not a requirement handed down from Mt. Sinai or anything like that. Immediately one calls attention to this fact, the unsophisticated begin complaining about how allowing hypothesis that are not empirically testable (even if they may be testable in other ways, albeit very personally and uniquely) abandons a critical ontological filter, allowing all kinds of ideas to come in the door. (For example, it is the moment when you, Mr. Anderson, begin fulminating about Easter Bunnies.) And, honestly, there is truth to that. That is, a requirement that the only statements which can be accepted as true must themselves concern empirical data or be reduced to hypotheses tested against empirical data allows for a much narrower ontology than if that requirement is not imposes. On the other hand, it opens the door to interpretations that may well prove to be more meaningful than a narrower understanding of reality can provide.

            Many billions of human beings have found this to be so. Belief in deity and in some form of immortality are the two most common characteristics of anthropology. It makes sense that there would be a reason for that. It is easy for fools to account for it by disparaging their fellow beings and by exalting their own superior knowledge or understanding, but, you know, it’s one of those things that ain’t necessarily so.

            Read W.V.O. Quine, Two Dogmas of Empiricism (1951).

          • Erick says:

            Trytoseeitmyway:

            Let me try and apply what you just said, to the discussion at hand. You are stating that just because a theory, such as the theory of religion (for lack of a better description), lacks empirical support, doesn’t mean we can rule it out as a possibility?

            Okay, I’m on board with that. However, I am going to assume that you are not necessarily defending the remote possibility of the theory of religion, but rather you are stating it, particularly Mormonism, as the most likely explanation.

            If I am correct, I see something of a gap that you haven’t nearly closed between possibility, and most likely possibility. You also are referring to an epistemology that is not compatible with empirical observation, yet I assume you claim it to be none the less “real”, do you not? Again, if I am correct, what are the “real” effects of this way knowing. How do you evaluate it and close the gaps of uncertainty?

          • trytoseeitmyway says:

            Erick,

            This is a response to your questions to me. The way this comment section is designed, there was no “Reply” button under the comment to which this response is intended to reply. It is possible that this will show up awkwardly, but I’m doing the best I can. :-)

            In answer, or partial answer, I have to begin by quarreling over words a bit. As you attempt to restate my expressed views, you use the phrase “lacks empirical support.” (As in, “You are stating that just because a theory, such as the theory of religion (for lack of a better description), lacks empirical support, doesn’t mean we can rule it out as a possibility?”) But I think that is NOT what I am stating, or at least not precisely. It strikes me that many interpretations of experiences may not reduce themselves to testable hypotheses, but that the experience itself (and perhaps related events as well) can still be “empirical support” for that interpretation. Does that make sense?

            And, no, the level at which this argument applies is not at all specific to Mormonism. In Quine’s “Two Dogmas” he used “the gods of Homer” as illustrating an interpretation that could be held true against any recalcitrant experience.

            But perhaps that nicely sets up your main question to me, because I am indeed a believing, faithful, active Mormon. I think you’re sort of asking me, how do I get from a general openness to the transcendent to the specific tenets of my faith? Or, in other words, why the gods of Joseph Smith, and not the gods of Homer?

            Right? Is that your question?

            If so, it’s a great question. It is also not one that allows for a concise answer. That Anderson fellow is just waiting to pounce if I say, “the Spirit of God,” because he is going to say that spiritual confirmation is too subjective and ambiguous. But, you know, it’s not. I have had undeniable spiritual experience, and I think that Mormonism is a better source for those experiences than any other I’ve encountered. (I haven’t always been a Mormon and at times have been as atheist as Anderson is.) I also think that you can look at religious history (this now veers back toward empiricism) and see clear pointers and confirmations for the doctrines of the Restored Gospel. (Read Tad Callister’s book on the Apostasy for example.) I think that if there weren’t something to Mormonism, it would not be lied about so extensively. Things like that.

            I agree that ultimately it becomes pretty personal. I haven’t read Givens’ essay but I’ve read other things he’s written (“The God Who Weeps,” for example) and have the idea that he is saying the same thing. That is, I have the idea that he regards these choices – which is exactly what they are – as very personal. It is the inherent subjectivity of our spiritual experiences and spiritual decisions which provides meaning to temporal existence, which strikes me as a pretty important understanding to have.

      • Wayne Dequer says:

        Thanks for comparing me to Catholic ladies of great faith. I’ve known at least one pretty well who was wonderfully faithful. I believe it will be accounted to her good and hope I will be worthy to meet her in the eternities.

        Having read some of the comments below, I will also say I value and respect scientific curiosity, inquiry, processes, and knowledge and all TRUTH. (Of course “truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” See D&C 93:24). One of my sons-in-law has a PhD in Molecular Genetics from Ohio State and continues to do some original research along with his current job as a teacher/professor at a relatively small college. We’ve discussed these ideas previously. I find the idea, suggested by some, that no faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be a good scientist to be absurd. Science is not a closed system of proven facts by Aristotle or anyone else, but an open and dynamic system that is even willing to questions if the speed of light is the ultimate “fast.” (To date it is.)

        I thank you for your interest in my comment, and I wish you well in your life and positive endeavors.

        • Duwayne Anderson says:

          Wayne wrote: “I find the idea, suggested by some, that no faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be a good scientist to be absurd.”

          I posted earlier, with links to the supporting documents, but got a message saying that my post was subject to moderation. Typically, in these cases, the post never shows up. So I’m reposting without the links; just the citations. They’re easy enough to locate/verify on the LDS website.

          The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches the universal flood as described in the OT. “The [“The Flood and the Tower of Babel,” Ensign, January 1998 – available on the LDS Church website]

          A person can’t be a good scientist if they believe that LDS doctrine.

          The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches a literal Adam and Eve. [“Gospel Fundamentals,” Chapter 6 – available on the LDS Church website.]

          A person can’t be a good scientist if they believe that LDS doctrine.

          The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the earth is only 7,000 years old. [D&C 77:6 – available on the LDS Church website]

          A person can’t be a good scientist if they believe that LDS doctrine.

          According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the universe is comprehended and controlled by a lump of matter the size of a human brain [D&C 130:22 – available on the LDS Church website]

          A person can’t be a good scientist if they believe that LDS doctrine.

          According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the sun gets it’s light from Kolob. [Book of Abraham, facsimile 2– available on the LDS Church website ]

          A person can’t be a good scientist if they believe that LDS doctrine.

          The examples go on and on and on and on.

          Truly — a person cannot be a good scientist and believe all that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints teaches.

          • Connor says:

            Your problem, Duwayne, is that you believe a single statement made in the Ensign or by a General Authority or in the Manuals or the Prophet makes that statement doctrine. This is the very type of black and white thinking that Givens was warning against. Who can say that those statements given were not metaphorical, or even completely false?

            There are many ways to remain a member in good standing, to be considered a Mormon, and not believe in any of those so-called “doctrines” you just pulled out. I am now experiencing that first hand. I hope critics of the Church and those within can realize that the Church can’t be trusted to deal with objective truth – it deals in community, service, comfort, guidelines for a good life, and worship of the Good and mysterious.

          • trytoseeitmyway says:

            I didn’t look at each one of the examples cited in Anderson’s remarks, but a couple caught my eye, and so I looked at them. Boy, what a … well, anyway, this is obviously a guy who would rather pick a fight than retain a shred of credibility.

            You would have to be the most tendentious doofus on the face of the Earth to get “the universe is comprehended and controlled by a lump of matter the size of a human brain” out of any reasonable interpretation of D&C 130:22. It just doesn’t say that and no one thinks that. The assertion is just Anderson being nasty, and looking stupid at the same time.

            Ditto (this is the other example I looked at) for “[t]he Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the earth is only 7,000 years old,” citing D&C 77:6. The Church DOESN’T teach that, as Anderson knows very well. In the words of Henry Eyring (the elder),

            Questions involving the age of the earth, pre-Adamic man, or organic evolution may seem to us to be interesting and important. However, I doubt that God thinks they matter enough to have provided definitive explanations in our current scriptures. They will all receive adequate answers in due course. Whatever the ultimate answers are, the gospel will remain, and new questions will take the place of those we solve. For me, the truth of the gospel does not hinge on such questions, interesting as they are.

            Anderson knows that very well, because that exact quotation was included in the FARMS review of Anderson’s self-published book. (They panned it, by the way.)

            But how does that current teaching square with section 77 verse 6? Well, that verse sure doesn’t say that the earth is 7,000 years old, which is what Anderson claims. The verse is part of a key to the symbolism of the Book of Revelation and says that the book of the seven seals refers to hidden mysteries “concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.” So, seven thousand years of the earth’s “continuance” simply doesn’t obviously or in context refer to elapsed time from Creation to the authorship of the Book of Revelation. Or from Creation to any other particular date. It is moronic for Anderson to claim otherwise.

            LDS and non-LDS eschatologists relate the seven seals that symbolically add to seven thousand years to events symbolically described by the opening of the seals. Creation isn’t one of them.

            What Anderson is doing is, he is LOOKING for reasons to throw stones, even if, in doing so, he ends up looking foolish.

        • Duwayne Anderson says:

          Wayne wrote: “Science is not a closed system of proven facts by Aristotle or anyone else…”

          Nobody’s saying that, Wayne. In fact, in typical fashion, you have the situation bass akwards.

          In science we *do* change our conclusions. We do it when the evidence demands.

          But, in Mormonism, the fundamental belief that the “church is true” is beyond questioning. I’ve asked you before, and like all the other Mormons I know you have declined to list any verifiable and objective evidence that, if it existed, would cause you to denounce Mormonism.

          • Wayne Dequer says:

            What I said was “Science is not a closed system of proven facts by Aristotle or anyone else, but an open and dynamic system that is even willing to questions if the speed of light is the ultimate ‘fast.’ (To date it is.)” If you study the history of Science, into the Renaissance Aristotle, etc. were considered to be the unassailable experts on Scientific Truth. Some seem to put current scientific consensus into that same unassailable position. Insofar as you are willing to adjust your opinions as new evidences arise and agree that new evidence is likely to arise, we are in substantial agreement.

          • Brian Utley says:

            Yes, the Church is true. It is truly a church. That’s all. That’s all it ever will be. The book called the Book of Mormon is true. It truly is a book. That’s all it ever will be (except now it is a Broadway play). The way you are describing things is to say that anything can be anything…it’s all in the wrist! All in the twist. Well, phooey on that kind of religion. For me and my house…we will serve the notion of friendship. I like that better than uncertainty. Friendship is the only categorical in the universe. In friendship, everything that is given is given freely…or the friendship becomes something else. Friends don’t make demands on friends…period! If they do, the sun and the moon of friendship cease to shine. Everything else is guess work and hypothesis. Everything else is uncertainty theory where people are concerned. Dogs and Cats probably have got certainty down pretty good…but not people. So I would recommend stop trying to put people into some kind of box…and stop trying to convince everybody in the world that one man can speak for everybody. The last time I talked with God, if I understood Him correctly, He just doesn’t work that way. He simply doesn’t establish links in the chain between Him and Us. It’s a direct connection. End of story.

        • Duwayne Anderson says:

          Wayne wrote: “Thanks for comparing me to Catholic ladies of great faith.”

          I’ve never understood people who glory in ignorance.

          • Erick says:

            “Your problem, Duwayne, is that you believe a single statement made in the Ensign or by a General Authority or in the Manuals or the Prophet makes that statement doctrine. This is the very type of black and white thinking that Givens was warning against. Who can say that those statements given were not metaphorical, or even completely false?”

            Connor, respectfully, this isn’t the issue. This defense is quite unsatisfactory…not because we can’t conceive of hypothetical situations where a Prophet could be a person with “some” inaccurate opinions, but because it is completely devoid of any meaningful standard of validating the Prophets words.

            Now, what is the usual response to this? The Holy Ghost! I’m sure you can see why this counter defense is not going to be satisfying, but I’ll explain. If there is a Holy Ghost out there who can set the record straight for me about the errors in GA statements…why didn’t the GA who made the inaccurate statements get the memo?

            In practical application Connor, the problem is that you, and Givens, have created a no-fail condition for validating a “true” Prophet. In other words, there is no test that can be applied to validate whether a person is or is not a Prophet, because all of them are and are not, at times. How do we tell if a Church leader was acting a Prophet or man?? Well, if they say something and the are right, then they are God’s anointed Prophet, Seers, and revelators. If however they are wrong, they are still God’s anointed Prophet, Seers, and revelators, who just happened to have that switch turned off at the moment they made whatever pronouncement it is we are debating. In other words, they are useless. You should expect nothing less than some reasonable standard of validation. That is all.

          • Wayne Dequer says:

            Seems to me I said: “Thanks for comparing me to Catholic ladies of great faith. I’ve known at least one pretty well who was wonderfully faithful. I believe it will be accounted to her good and hope I will be worthy to meet her in the eternities. . . . I will also say I value and respect scientific curiosity, inquiry, processes, and knowledge and all TRUTH.” Faith, faithfulness, and curiosity, inquiry and knowledge are NOT mutually exclusive. This is a false either/or proposition. Link many things in life faith and knowledge can comfortably coexist.

  10. ScottH says:

    The human experience is an expedition across a landscape of beliefs and doubts. The scope of truth vastly exceeds our individual capacity to amass knowledge, even in fairly routine matters. If we are honest, most of what we think we know is actually little more than acceptance of supposed evidences presented by others—in essence, appeals to authority. Deep understanding in niches can often be fit into the broader picture in as many ways as there are viewpoints.

    It seems to me (although, I can’t say that I know) that we each choose what to believe and what not to believe based on a very complex array of personalized factors. We then seek corroborations for our chosen set of beliefs and doubts (confirmation bias) and we act upon these in ways that best satisfy us. Due to the difficulty of establishing doubt-free knowledge in anything, it is quite easy to present reasonable sounding criticisms of the beliefs of others.

    Legalists criticize the “reasonable man” theory upon which much of our jurisprudence is constructed because they can easily demonstrate that humans operate mainly on beliefs, rather than reason. The “reasonable man” does not exist, despite protestations of reason worshipers.

    None of us is very comfortable facing the reality of pervasive uncertainty. And we don’t much like having our own set of beliefs and doubts challenged. Thus, it is difficult to convince others firmly steeped in their views that our way is best. But such is the nature of this life.

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      If you want to see how “reasonable” a person is, with regard to a particular belief, try asking this question:

      Question: “What verifiable and objective evidence (if it existed) would be sufficient for you to change your mind.”

      For example, I’m an ex-Mormon. If someone were to ask me what verifiable/objective evidence (VOE) would be sufficient for me to come back into the church I’d reply with a specific list. Mormons may or may not agree with the list — but there *is* a list.

      On the other hand, when I ask Mormons what VOE would be sufficient for them to denounce Mormonism, they just sit there with empty, blinking eyes. The question makes no sense to them — they believe in spite of VOE. VOE is irrelevant to them. They will *never* denounce Mormonism no matter *what* VOE exists. They have, literally, made up their minds and VOE is of no consequence.

      If someone takes the POV that VOE is irrelevant, then they are truly unreasonable. There may be degrees of unreasonableness in others, but there is no person more unreasonable than the person who has made up their mind with complete disregard for VOE.

      • Craig says:

        Great point Mr. Anderson. They seem to be stuck in a mind trap.

      • Connor says:

        Of course the question doesn’t make any sense to the Mormons you’ve asked. Objective evidence doesn’t matter to them. They’re only there because of what they get out of it. What truly matters to most Mormons is that the Church can make them happier. This is why the spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon works – their minds so want to believe in something that transcends our objective existence, that helps and comforts them, that gives them a purpose and makes them feel special, that encourages them to live a full, healthy, family-oriented life, that their minds make that necessary experience for them. There was never any evidence on the table – only their longing for something more.

        I agree that Mormons have a desperate need to realize that their testimony and faith is not based on objective facts, and that their scriptures and leaders cannot be trusted as sources of objective truth. Yet, something still remains once those truths are taken away. I think the Church would be much more healthier and rewarding once this idea is embraced.

        • Duwayne Anderson says:

          Interesting comments, Conner. I would like to point out that, although the Mormon Church tells everyone that they are pro-family, they really aren’t.

          In truth, the Mormon Church can be highly destructive of families because of the way they use families as leverage, to keep other members in the cult.

          The Mormon Church is organized so as to osctracise from family events those who don’t pay homage to the church and its leaders. Does any other church forbid non-members from attending weddings? Does any other church unilaterally force ecclesiastical divorce on church marriages, when one spouse resigns?

          The Mormon Church does.

          The Mormon Church also organizes itself so that fathers are expected to bless, baptize, and participate in “priesthood meetings” with their sons. And, of course, they are disallowed from any of that, if they resign from the church — leading to organizational shunning.

          Mormons who live/work in Utah, and resign, are often fired by their Mormon bosses, or evicted by their Mormon landlords.

          In fact, I can’t think of a single objectively verifiable thing that the Mormon Church does for families. They *say* they seal them for “time and all eternity,” but that’s just talk. When it comes to actually enabling and helping families, it seems to me that the Mormon Church doesn’t do a single substantive thing. And the *damage* they do to families is remarkable.

          Every ex-Mormon I know has a story about being disowned by parents, shunned by siblings, and hated by aunts and uncles. The Mormon Church encourages this sort of hateful behavior by telling members not to associate with “apostates” (it’s actually a requirement in the temple interview process).

          What other church attacks families in such a vehement manner? What other church shows such disregard for family stability?

          As with so many assertive claims that the LDS Church makes, this claim of being pro-family is nothing but a bald-faced lie — dished up by the PR department for a gullible public to consume.

      • Mormon Explorer says:

        @Duwayne Anderson: Your fervor waxes loud. I feel like I have come to some similar conclusions where I have had to adopt the VOE over the scriptural or prophetic teachings/conjecturing on conflicting matters. I was worried my faith (and membership in the LDS church) just splattered like a bug on a windshield. And I suppose it did to a large degree. But ultimately, I have since worked back to the most rudimentary drivers for religion in the first place from an anthropological point of view, and I came to a logical string of conclusions:
        1. Men and Women act on both an innate conscience and instinct.
        2. This self awareness and conscience drives us to be preoccupied with and seek relief or explanation for death, pain, and our own mistakes.
        3. Mankind somewhere along the way found success in dealing with these problems through “spiritual development.” Revealed or evolved – all religious are designed to deal with this stress.
        4. Success at connecting to the spiritual world (regardless of the practice) comes by “being good” or through self discipline, internal commitment, drive, or even crises.
        5. Regardless of accuracy and factuality, religious people still successfully find spiritual satisfaction.
        6. No one will ever have all the facts. If they make a decision in good faith its to their credit (including choosing a religion).
        7. So, ultimately, religion is everything yet nothing at the same time! It helps us cope (or find god depending on your perspective) but ultimately life is developing your desire to choose right or wrong.
        More succinctly, religion has value. And even if completely flawed and inaccurate or even based on pure fibs, by practice, the Mormon religion is probably as good as any and better than most at helping people connect with spiritual things. Furthermore, the temple is a place where we can continue to connect in an extremely focused environment. Is that worth giving up alcohol, cigarettes, and porn? Is it worth paying 10% of my income? Is it worth getting out of bed on Sunday mornings and serving all day? I say yes but to each his own.
        So ask yourself: is your sense of right and wrong innate or was it learned? If it was innate at least on some level then is it worth developing?
        I do ask myself if I am truly honest in my temple recommend interview if I seriously doubt that everything happened the way Joseph Smith said it did…Book of Mormon and all. I tell the Bishop that I hope it is true, or at least the meaning or purpose of it is true in some way that matters. And that seems to be a happy medium. Is it a testimony? I guess it is to some degree. If the work of J.S. leads men and women finding god, then yes I have a testimony of him.
        We don’t have all the answers and there very well may be some type of understanding that will pull it all together. If Mormonism exists for 10,000 years, maybe these years are simply some building blocks to a greater work God has to bring all the people under one belief system through religious evolution… (Only a random example…) So I am comfortable with VOE without feeling like I’m being duped by the church. I think I could leave but I would find myself in the same predicament with any other religion or even atheism. For now, I’m happy to be a hoping, doubting, agnostic-leaning Mormon, who likes the story that perhaps there is some type of design and purpose of this messy, painful life. For now I will be good and try and help others anyway I can.

  11. Duwayne Anderson says:

    From the article: “Givens writes, “Nothing in the Book of Mormon suggests that Lehi’s colony expanded to fill the hemisphere.”

    Contrary to the bald-faced assertions of Mormon apologists, the Book of Mormon has many references to the Book of Mormon people becoming very numerous and covering the whole face of the land. Here are just two of them:

    “The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea.” [Mormon 1:7]

    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/morm/1.7?lang=eng#6

    “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.” [Heleman 3:8]

    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/hel/3.8?lang=eng#7

    Furthermore, early Mormon “prophets” and “revelations” clearly interpreted the Book of Mormon this way. Here are some examples:
    “And thus you shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.” [D&C 54:8]
    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/54.8?lang=eng#7
    Note that, in D&C 54:8, the Mormon god clearly identifies the Native Americans as “Lamanites.” Something the Mormon god also does in D&C 28.

    Joseph Smith could find Lamanite remains, literally, by taking a hike through the North American woods, as illustrated in the story about Zelph (a white Lamanite).

    http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/zelph.htm

    Any intelligent, unbiased reading of the Book of Mormon, in conjunction with early statements/scripture by Mormon prophets, leads to the conclusion that it describes the Lehites covering a substantive portion of the continent.

    This is why Mormon apologetics is so ineffective. Do Mormon apologists think the apostates have never read the Book of Mormon? In truth, we know it better than they. When apologists are reduced to lying about what’s in the Book of Mormon, it only adds to the realization that the entire religion is based on fraud and lies.

    • DWD says:

      Duwayne & Erick: We get it. You wanted to be worldly and left the Church.

      • Duwayne Anderson says:

        What have I said that would justify drawing that conclusion?

        Nothing.

        On the other hand, you have illustrated nicely, by your lack of substantive response, that you adhere to irrationality under the guise of religiosity.

        If I’m wrong, then you’ll be able to describe the verifiable and objective evidence that would, if it existed, cause you to repudiate Mormonism.

      • Erick Kuhni says:

        DWD:

        What does it mean to be “worldly”. I gather that it was a self-righteous insult…but do you at least understand saying beyond the desire to try and either wound or embarrass me?

    • Wayne Dequer says:

      Again your penchant for accusing others of lying.
      1) Taking individual scriptures out of context is called proof-texting. Wikipedia explains it and the pitfall well and tell a delightfully humorous story at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prooftext !
      2) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially makes no claims on specific Book of Mormon locations of which I am aware. Internal geographic clues present some possibility for Book of Mormon locations. The relative consistent shortness of journeys suggests a relatively small location (a few hundred miles at most and not thousands of miles). I know one person who believes “isle of the sea” is literal although I do not.
      3) On Zelph: At least reference the information provided by Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelph. It certainly is NOT canonized scripture, nor frequently referenced in official LDS sources. I don’t have all the answers on Zelph, but, at the least, I have not met any active member who claims Joseph Smith was infallible although more than a few critics claim he should have been.

      I wish you well in your life and positive endeavors.

      • Erick says:

        Wayne:

        Zelph is big problem that can’t be washed away as a simple example of honest “fallibility”. Joseph Smith’s pronouncement about the bones, the person they alleged belonged to (Zelph) was too specific. Joseph Smith didn’t say, “hey, perhaps these are the remains of a fallen Lamanite”. That would be an honest mistake. No, Joseph Smith named this alleged Lamanite, told a brief story about his life, the wars he fought, and the friends he fought with (even naming the great Prophet Onandagus). These kinds of specifics aren’t the guessing kinds of things. These are the kinds of things that would require particular knowledge, or they are the kinds of things you would say if you wanted people to think you had particular knowledge. They are not, however, the kinds of details you’d simply “goof” on.

        Given that, we either have to accept the story about Zelph, or we have accept the possibility that Joseph Smith was notorious for spinning yarns. As Given’s would say, these are the only reasonable interpretations.

  12. Mormon Me says:

    This entire letter reminds me of something Boyd K Packer (Mormon Apostle) once said.
    “I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting; it destroys.”

    • trytoseeitmyway says:

      OK, so that turns out to be a lie. At best, it is a statement attributed to Elder Packer by D. Michael Quinn. Quinn “recalled” that Elder Packer made such a statement (which Elder Packer supported by an example of a truthful statement made to an unattractive person about being unattractive – it might be true but it would be hurtful) in an interview with Quinn many years before the claimed recollection was written down and published by Quinn. Elder Packer has never made any such statement formally, in public or as a summary of anything he believes. This is just the kind of smear that you guys love. It’s disgusting.

      • Erick says:

        It is true that we must rely on Quinn for this particular quote of Packers, but Packer gave a very popular speech at BYU around the time of the famous “September Six”, titled “The Mantle is Far, Far, Greater Than the Intellect”, which states these views in a quite detailed way. I’ve never questioned the quote from Quinn simply because of this talk where Packer offers his views on how Church educators should teach Church history, ie, the hierarchy of faith before facts.

  13. Erick says:

    Sure Trevor, but rather than using words to say nothing (just like Given’s did), perhaps you could offer your thoughts as to what the strong and weak points of Given’s “letter” were? Certainly if you think my reading of the letter was “superficial”, you were able to see some content that may be of value to the “doubter”??

  14. Lasvegasrichard says:

    From my personal point of view , Givens is hedging his bet , and is at the doorway of a full blown doubter .

    • Erick says:

      I wonder though, how does one hedge their bet’s on an issue like this. I mean, practically speaking, Joseph Smith was absolutely right about the problem associated with selecting a Church along the landscape of vast options and complete uncertainty. In other words, which doorway would stand in?

  15. Rockgod28 says:

    Pride.

    It is the universal sin. Doubt is a symptom of pride. Doubt is the pathway of pride.

    Jesus said “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction.”

    Over this wide gate is the name PRIDE and the pathway is called DOUBT.

    We know through Lehi’s dream what happens to doubters. It is a tragedy and full of sorrow for all who either made it to the tree of life or were lost on the way. There is nothing to be praised for doubt and we know that all the paths of doubt lead to three things.

    To be lost, arrogance and at the end of every path of doubt is destruction as Jesus said.

    The narrow gate and straight way leads to life, the opposite of destruction. The narrow gate is HUMILITY and the straight way is FAITH.

    What do we know?

    We know there is a God in Heaven and he has given us his Son because he loves us. There is no other name by which we can be saved to return to live with our Father in Heaven. No other name, no other way.

    Now if your doubts beset you, plague you, bind you and draw you down into the endless gulf of misery how is God to save you?

    Answer all your questions, erase your doubts?

    What do you doubt? That God is real?

    What do you base your evidence upon? Justice, biology, human interaction, leaders, prophets, knowledge, wisdom, information, scriptures, or anything outside yourself?

    That is a foundation of sand and is made up of a house of cards.

    Faith, it comes from God.

    When you are beaten, spit upon, chained, imprisoned, witness murders, tortures, and great evil as if God were silent, appears to not exist or care for the suffering of humanity to even be killed yourself I have a question for you.

    Will your doubt save you?

    Did Abel deny his testimony of God when he was killed by his brother? Did doubt lead the people of Enoch to create Zion? Did doubt build the Ark that would save Noah and his family even though it did not rain for 120 years? Did doubt save Abraham? Did doubt cause Joseph to save Egypt and the world from famine as he suffered in prison or sold as a slave?

    Did doubt cause Moses to free all of Israel? Did doubt cause the walls of Jericho to fall? Was doubt the source of Elijah’s challenge to the priests of Ba’al? Did doubt cause David to slay Goliath?

    I am sure you are starting to see a pattern here.

    When the friends of Daniel were to be executed by fire, was it doubt that saved them.

    DOUBT IS NO ONES FRIEND AND IT IS NO BLESSING!!!

    Doubt is to be overcome with faith. Nephi the son of Lehi said it best. I do not know all things, but I know that God loves his children.

    Do not doubt we are children of a living God. We are children in understanding and learning. To imagine otherwise is PRIDE.

    We are on this world to overcome the PRIDE that was in the heart of Lucifer. That same PRIDE cause one third of the hosts of heaven to fall.

    They doubted GOD. They doubted in the plan of salvation. As I said, doubt is a symptom of PRIDE.

    There is nothing to be proud of with doubt or desolation. No one is desolate who has faith in God as Job showed us after he lost nearly everything. We are not alone if we have faith.

    It is faith that saves us. It is faith that drove Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon. It was faith that restored the Priesthood by the hand of John the Baptist and Peter, James and John. It was faith that caused the Temples of God to be built again upon the Earth. It was faith of ordinary members to trek across the wilderness after everything was lost over and over again.

    It was faith that has built the kingdom of God with nearly 150 Temples that dot the Earth today.

    Are there young adults that lose there way? Yes. I was one of them. I am no longer lost. Why? I have faith.

    Faith that God loves me, loves my family, loves me enough to forgive me through his Son.

    That is my foundation. Everything else is a bonus and blessing from God as I build upon the rock of my salvation. I build upon Prophets, Apostles, good books, leaders, and most importantly upon the Holy Ghost that witnesses the truth of all things.

    Upon this foundation of FAITH I walk the straight pathway home.

    • Lasvegasrichard says:

      Your first mistake here is that you treat all your quotes as though they are absolute truths , as opposed to tales in a novel . Next up , at being repetitious ; All the faith in the universe will never make something false become true .

      • Rockgod28 says:

        Thank you for proving my point.

        PRIDE.

        You have it.

        • Erick says:

          Rockgod28:

          There is this tendency among religious folk, like yourself, to hijack adjectives in order to prioritize them with your pre-determined defaults. For example:

          Pride – a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

          In your case however the definition becomes “holding doubts regarding the truthfulness of specific religious claims”. This is ironic simply because I find your examples of pride to be quite self-serving…should we say…”prideful”??

          Humility, is another one. Religious people think that because they submit themselves to a religion, they are humble. They insist that without serious error, they are right about their views on God and the Universe, and anything they believe God has to say about humanity and world affairs. They are willing to concede to no possibility error in their understanding of God’s purpose, commandments, or intentions, but call it humility simply because they assign their opinions to having originated from God. This is not humility!

          • Rockgod28 says:

            I saidhave “Doubt is a symptom of Pride.”

            There is zero dignity or importance to doubt. Doubt does not move mountains. Doubt is darkness, desolation and despair. There is nothing noble about doubt.

            Doubt did not get men to the moon. Doubt did not help Apollo 13 get home safetly. Doubt has not created our technologies, wonders and miracles.

            It was faith. Now my opinion does not match yours. That does not mean I don’t recognize pride when I see it. I see you have it too.

          • Erick says:

            Rockgod28:

            This is a Trojan argument. You are trying to slip Mormonism into the crowd of lunar travel and developing technologies, hoping no one will notice. Mormonism is a religion of doubt founded on the alleged doubts of Joseph Smith regarding which Church he should join.

            Doubt, like innovation and optimism, has it’s necessary place in the framework of human thought. Doubt did not get man on the moon necessarily, but it has served in prevent many people from running off the edge of a cliff during the dark of the night.

            Doubt is not a “symptom” of anything other than our struggles to live in an uncertain world where decisions must be made. It has nothing to do with “pride” and everything to with processing information and making decisions. This is why your sentimental arguments are so empty. You ignore what doubt actually is and prescribe a solution that is precisely the problem. What was solution? “Erase all doubt”! Doubt in what? Do you not hold doubts about any subject, or do just believe everything? Obviously any functioning person holds doubts about something. The things that you suggest we should not have doubts about, are just your religious worldviews. You believe that Mormonism should be given an exemption to doubts, while all other contrary religious worldviews should not.

            The problem is that doubt is not some choice that people make. Rather, doubt is our confrontation with inadequate information. In other words, we cannot simply erase doubt, we can only ignore them. But to ignore our doubts is only to ignore our uncertainties, and to do so arbitrarily. If for example, we could ignore our doubts arbitrarily, and still make correct decisions, that would require us to have some means of selecting which doubts or more likely unfounded. In other words, its insane logic. The only way to ignore your doubts and still make good decisions is to get more information and reduce your uncertainty…which is the whole reason doubts in the first place, because there is too much uncertainty.

            In other words, these admonitions to “have faith”, “erase doubt”, “believe”, etc, are collections of empty phrase words with no decision value.

        • Lasvegasrichard says:

          Curious as to how 2 absolute statements of 100% truth comes off as pride . It seems to me that a closer definition of pride is someone who adamantly clings to a concept , no matter how great the possibility , that it could be false . Therefore , you can’t exercise any of what you call faith in a possibly false belief . The Mormon doctrine , ( and yes it’s doctrine ) that all other forms of Christianity are false , is in fact identical to what all other forms of Christianity claim about the LDS . So since no one in 7 billion residents of Earth possess the absolute truth , ‘ All the faith in the universe ‘ … Is a lost cause . Self delusion is true pride .

    • Neal Cassidy says:

      Depending on quotes from the Book Of Mormon to prove the truth of the Book Of Mormon does not advance your argument. Perhaps you could use quotes from material that is not in dispute on this blog. Also doubt is a very basis for Mormon missionaries to convince people to leave their current church and join the LDS church. Doubt does not seem to be in disfavor when it is used to gain new converts.

  16. LaVerl 09 says:

    These arguments as presented here against the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the Mormon Church smell a lot like the historical arguments that have been used for centuries against organized religion in general and God as a divine being that created us.
    Doubt is the essence of faith and has as many manifestations as there are truth seeking persons. This includes our modern day sciences that operate more by faith these days than they do by provable fact.
    All the modern quantum physics talk of the “observer” effect, the holographic universe, a universe by “intelligent design”, search for a “god-particle”, postulations of other inhabited planets, the debate over one “big bang” vs multiple big bangs of constant creation–are admittedly pursuits of faith because the old “scientific truths” are becoming obsolete.
    The most glaring example is the abandoning of the speed of light as the fastest way to travel through space to put “faith” in a new theory that the speed of gravity far surpasses anything we have imagined thus far.
    To me, science and religion can both benefit from an open mind, but we still must depend on some kind of base from which to operate.
    Gordon B. Hinckley said it best–”To be able to think out of the box, you must first have a box.”

    • Lang says:

      Mormons can be easily understood.
      (Mormons)Many smart people are really good a justifying what they have learned for very stupid reasons.

      Mormons are good at bashing people over the validity of “historical arguments,” but Mormons never answer the historical arguments with any degree of honesty. As far as GB Hinkley and his “box”, when the LDS church admits Jesus is one of many solar deities, the P Of G.P is Hor’s Book Of Breathing from 200 b.c., and all the secret temple signs and tokens are masonic rituals, then we can examine the 100′s of other critical flaws that Mormons blindly justify. They are smart people, but no one can used logic to understand something that they believe for an illogical reason. Oh and Native Americans are not Jews.

      • Lasvegasrichard says:

        Right for the heart . I want someone to step up here and tell the world with 100% absolute ‘ faith ‘ , that the Egyptian Goddess Hathor and the Egyptian God Osiris as depicted in Facimile 3 , is in FACT PHAROAH AND ABRAHAM . And explain to the world the 1500 or more years the history is off target . Truth stands on its own, no faith required .

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      Laverl wrote: “Doubt is the essence of faith and has as many manifestations as there are truth seeking persons. This includes our modern day sciences that operate more by faith these days than they do by provable fact.”

      Please explain the elements of “faith” required in the use of the equations of quantum physics that are applied to the design of lasers and semiconductor circuits. Please explain the elements of “faith” required in the use of the equations of General Relativity, in the design of GPS systems.

      Scientists would love to know — because if there were experimental facts diametrically opposed to those theories then scientists would *change* their theories. And nothing excites/energizes scientists like the prospect of new science.

      That’s the defining difference between the irrational religion/superstition that you practice and rational systems of thought such as science. In science, we are compelled to change our thinking and our theories when they come into disagreement with verifiable and objective evidence. In Mormonism, on the other hand, there is only the black-and-white ideology of “the church is true.” This underlying ideology cannot be changed, denied, or doubted. All other facts and observations can be ignored, lied about, denied and abused — so long as doing so preserves the one unalterable Mormon dogma: the Church is true.

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      LaVerl wrote: “The most glaring example is the abandoning of the speed of light as the fastest way to travel through space to put “faith” in a new theory that the speed of gravity far surpasses anything we have imagined thus far.”

      You really don’t know what you’re talking about, LaVerl. According to GR, gravity waves travel at the speed of light. Having said that, the universality of the speed of light isn’t something that scientists decided upon out of “faith.” It’s a conclusion drawn from experimental evidence. And like any scientific conclusion, it’s tentative — subject to review/modification by future experiments.

      This is the defining difference between rational systems of thought like science, and superstitious/illogical systems of thought like Mormonism. In Mormonism you are compelled — truly compelled — to hold to preexisting conclusions no matter what evidence. Mormons simply cannot tolerate (in their black-and-white world) the possibility that Mormonism isn’t “true.” As a result, there is literally no evidence, no matter how compelling, that can ever shake their irrational “faith.”

  17. Damion Judkins says:

    Verifiable Objective Evidence? It sounds like you went Atheist not anti-Mormon. The Evidence of religion is not something that has verifiable or objective evidence. If you serve your fellow man, why do you get a good feeling? If you quote Christ’s words out of the Bible to comfort someone who need comfort, why does it make a difference? Most religionists believe what they do by choice not evidence. I choose to believe what I do. I choose to have faith in my religion and choose to believe that it is true. If that is deluded, so I’m deluded. I believe it makes me a better person for my beliefs. While it does not make my religion proven true, there is verifiable objective evidence that joining the LDS church does make people more moral. I would suggest that it might be better at that than any other organization out there, but I do not have the research to prove it.

    As for why I choose to believe, I do so for the doctrine that it teaches: such as – if everyone has to be baptized by one religion – this one is trying to make sure there is a baptism for every soul who ever lived for them to accept or reject at their pleasure. If marriage can last past death, this religion is trying to make sure that the marriages are performed in such a way that that can happen. We believe that little children who die before baptism are covered by Christ’s atonement and don’t get sent to Hell. There are more but the doctrine is sweet to me. I choose to believe this as this feels in harmony with what I feel God is like.

    In the end, there is no VOE that would make me WANT to believe otherwise.

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      Thanks for proving my point.

      By the way, a person doesn’t have to be “Mormon” to “comfort or serve another. From a verifiable POV, to be a “Mormon” means giving one’s allegiance to the Mormon Church. It means paying them tithing, sustaining your leaders, and believing in the church doctrines — most of which have nothing to do with being a “good” person in any non-sectarian way. Being “Mormon” means inventing a definition of “good” that is mostly about how one relates to the institutionalized church and the men who run it, rather than how one relates to one’s fellow human being.

      And (as you have illustrated) being “Mormon” also means being ideologically devoted to superstition and opposed to any verifiable or objective evidence that suggests your myths, superstitions, and absurdities are not actually true.

      • Mormon Explorer says:

        @duwayne Anderson: you are right, people can do those things outside the church. But they also do them inside the church and perhaps more effectively… thanks to TV and internet surfing…I probably won’t get too active helping mankind and striving to be activily good unless I’m one of those really self motivated types…And why not dot it more efficiently from within a religious or chartible organization?

        Believing the doctrine allows for personal spiritual satisfaction. But our beliefs are our own. They don’t hamper our freedom…they are developed through our freedom. People seek truth when they want it and will get there in their own way.

        Sustaining leaders is an organizational function that doesn’t do any harm but rather creates unity and more productivity. I’m hardly surrenduring my free will with either of these objections of yours.

        Lastly, you say Mormonism invented our definition of “good” and the bar we live by or hold ourselves to. Hogwash. While developed by cultural influences and the like, basic right and wrong is innate. We have a sense of justice and injustice. There is nothing wrong with using Mormonism as a vehicle to develop this in a way that we see fit. Yes, you could relax the “mormon layer” of right and wrong when making deciding if our actions are moral. But follow the decision to the end goal and you will see it still a choice to either be better people or not to be a better person. furthmore, the decision has to be made indiviudally based on their best understanding of what right and wrong is. If that changes, it changes by a little bit. Maybe dietary standards matter to one person but not the other. But the big stuff doesn’t change.

        As to your superstitions etc… comment, you need to lighten up. See my response to one of your previous posts. Our drivers for activity can be based purely in the hope for some type of future reconciliation or and/or purely for the desire to become better people.

        Yes, some people believe it all literally. but what does it matter to you and me? the only thing that matters is what we choose to do and to become. And that is enough. Act on the best light and knowledge you have. Let people come to their own conclusions. If Mormonism is too narrow for you, you will stand honestly if indeed you are ever judged by some supreme all knowing creator. At the end of the day, finding light and knowledge and being true to it trumps all organized religious endeavors.

        You have an edge of anger in all your comments. Your comments are valid and should be explored but definately not the end all. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but why not relax a little? Give people the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to figure things out on their own.

        • Duwayne Anderson says:

          Mormon explorer wrote: “Sustaining leaders is an organizational function that doesn’t do any harm…”

          Actually, I think it does. One of the problems with leadership cults like Mormonism is that they equate being “good” with following the leader.

          Did you sustain any of the Mormon leaders who taught that Blacks had been “not valiant” in the pre-existence? Did you ratify their racism by sustaining them as “prophets, seers, and revelators?” Did you sustain Boyd Packer, the homophobic Gay basher?

          If so, then you did a cowardly and *bad* thing. And you did it because the social structure of Mormonism makes it (sustaining the leadership) a prerequisite for full participation in the church. Mormonism is bad, in part, because it makes it a requirement to sustain/follow bad men.

          Mormon explorer wrote: “Lastly, you say Mormonism invented our definition of “good” and the bar we live by or hold ourselves to. Hogwash.”

          Actually, your argument about sustaining your leaders supports my POV.

          Mormon explorer wrote: “Our drivers for activity can be based purely in the hope for some type of future reconciliation or and/or purely for the desire to become better people.”

          You don’t need to follow Mormonism to have hope. Your indoctrination is peeking through.

          Mormon explorer wrote: “Yes, some people believe it all literally.”

          Yeah. Like the leaders you sustain.

          Mormon explorer wrote: “You have an edge of anger in all your comments.”

          That’s your Mormon indoctrination speaking.

  18. Sean says:

    Duwayne,

    Your posts are interesting, however they violate a critical constraint in regards to spirituality. 1 Cor 12:3 expressly stipulates that “the Holy Ghost” must be a part of testimony. What VOE is there for that?

    As explained here it is far easier to prove spiritual experience with the Holy Ghost than to disprove it. Your arbitrary limit placed on VOE automatically excludes a vast amount of evidence from examination. This fact alone places your arguments in doubt even before examination. You become guilty of the very thing you accuse believing Mormons of, that they exclude evidence.

    In addition, it’s clear you only accept physical evidence from church history in drawing your conclusions. I have no doubt that you can explain all the problems with the contemporary view of Church history.

    I doubt you can rehearse explanations (from church historians POV) regarding those issues. It seems that you have cherry picked which POV you will accept and then excluded all others. If you can’t explain the apologetics POV of church history, how can we have any confidence that you have the whole story?

    Best of luck.

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      How do you know the holy ghost isn’t all in your head?

      Until you can answer that question in a credible fashion, you are just spouting nonsense — you subscribe to the epistemology of the infallible mind.

      Sean wrote: “It seems that you have cherry picked which POV you will accept and then excluded all others.”

      You have it bass akwards, Sean. Unless you can provide a list of VOE that would, in principle (if it existed) cause you to repudiate Mormonism, then it’s you who is doing the cherry picking. In your black-and-white world, Mormonism is true. It can’t be questioned and all other VOE must bow to your a priori beliefs and faith; the ultimate example of hubris.

      • Sean says:

        Duwayne,

        That’s a fair question. I have no more evidence of my experience with the Holy Ghost (that it is not just in my head) than you have evidence of the contrary (that its all in my head.)

        Since neither position can be proved or dis-proved, both are equally probable. Not sure how this can be construed as me “just spouting nonsense — you subscribe to the epistemology of the infallible mind.” Can’t the same argument be made for what you are saying?

        Since you haven’t refuted the idea (listed in my link) that all one needs for empirical proof is an experience with God, thus the contrary cannot be proved (or did you even examine the link/argument), the idea still stands.

        I am also confused why you “lump” all Mormonism together. There is Mormon History and Mormon works to consider. I don’t think you would “repudiate” all the good things the church does (VOE) in today’s society. You seem like a good person and it is reasonable to assume you applaud goodness in our world. Regardless of my personal theological belief, I would never repudiate the good works of an organization, be it Mormon, Catholic or Atheist.

        My VOE. My belief is directly tied to the BOM. Assuming you could go back in time and see the production of the BOM (whether faked or really translated), this would make or break the doctrine for me. Is there a way to do that? If not, either one of our arguments (for or against) is only hear-say with equal probability on their truth and accuracy.

        For the sake of discussion, what is your VOE to re-accept Mormon theology (I am already assuming you accept Mormon good works.)

        Regards.

        • Duwayne Anderson says:

          Sean wrote: “I have no more evidence of my experience with the Holy Ghost (that it is not just in my head) than you have evidence of the contrary (that its all in my head.)”

          Yeah, but it’s not my job to prove you are wrong — it’s your job to prove you are right.

          In similar manner, if someone asserts that the Easter Bunny lives, it’s their job to prove it. Not anyone else’s job to prove the Easter Bunny is a figment of their imagination.

          Now, if you are right, and you really have a conduit to the great Spirit that controls the universe, you should be able to pony up some evidence — something more substantial than your empty assertions.

          Sean wrote: “My VOE. My belief is directly tied to the BOM. Assuming you could go back in time ….”

          Sheesh, Sean. Think before you say something like that. VOE means Verifiable and Objective. Time travel in your head is neither.

      • Sean says:

        Never mind. Assuming this is you, then I have your list. My issue with your position is that you leave no room for discovery. Your expressed arguments and thoughts are “all or nothing.”

        Check out the discovery channels show about black holes. The famed scientist in the show state “the laws of physics break down at the surface of black holes. There is/are a higher set of laws that govern matter there that we don’t understand yet.” I don’t know who said it, but I believe that “true science and true religion never disagree.” Why can’t there be “higher laws” that we don’t understand yet out there awaiting our discovery? Clearly for you, enough evidence is in to draw a conclusion thus shutting out all other possibilities. I believe your position to be in error for this reason.

        You are correct that there are inconsistencies in Mormon history, but you fail to acknowledge that the historical record is not perfect. We don’t have all the facts, yet you argue like you do.

        Best of luck.

        • Duwayne Anderson says:

          Sean wrote: “My issue with your position is that you leave no room for discovery. Your expressed arguments and thoughts are “all or nothing.”

          Not true. In fact, not true at all. The principle bit of information on my list (and I’ve published that list in many places) is a scientifically authentic ancient American document, written in Hebrew and/or Egyptian (or their derivatives) that describes the same prophets, kings, judges, technologies, animals, plants and cities as those found in the Book of Mormon.

          That’s actually a very low evidentiary bar. If the Book of Mormon were true, Mormons would pony up the evidence instead of making excuses.

          Meanwhile, I note that you still haven’t listed the VOE that would be sufficient for you to repudiate Mormonism.

          • Sean says:

            You are arguing a spiritual concept but completely removing any room for faith. Spirituality and faith are inextricably connected. Where is the room to believe if there is undeniable proof available? There is none.

            If God showed up today and let you view these documents, he would remove your agency to believe. You would have a perfect knowledge with no room left to believe. God will do lots of things, but removing your agency is not one of them.

            You pull a double negative and say I must prove my argument right while you don’t have the job of proving me wrong. I do assert that God lives and the BOM teaches correct doctrine. I have millions of widely disseminated and un-connected members asserting a spiritual experience attesting to that. It is clear that they could not have colluded in there testimony beforehand. Where are your millions of ex-Mormons arguing otherwise? Statistical numbers are not in your favor. The truth is that we are both acting on faith based on limited evidence, the very thing you are deriding me for, but you won’t admit to that.

            Our problem is that we look at the same (incomplete) evidence and draw different conclusions. The difference between you and me is that you then choose to call me a victim. You choose to ignore the VOE the church produces in its members. You choose to resort to personal attack and refuse to examine actual arguments I have listed. This is sad when two reasonable people can’t have a discussion without resorting to such tactics.

            Scriptural constraints are not in dispute between us. Jesus said by their fruits, ye shall know them. I have yet to see you show any VOE fruits in the modern church that makes it bad, evil and generally negative institution you make it out to be. Where are the indicted GA’s embezzling money? Where are the documentaries showing the opulent life style of Apostles and Prophets based on church tithes? Contrary to your view, we both must sustain our arguments or be judged frauds by this discussion boards readers.

  19. Zen Wordsmith says:

    We must first undergo a new look at the topographical
    layout of geographical “compass fitting” to [Book of Mormon]
    text. Let’s put aside the notions of “Water-Bridges”.
    The setting is a land of nomads of [LEHI] and his family.
    2500 BCE is the data-date, and includes the [HINDUSTAN]
    rich remnants of [GOA/B.O.M. bay India].
    They were most likely of the Davidical/Buddhist traditions that
    have migrated in French/Canadian & German tribals since
    restoration of the [Melchezedek] Priesthood. [India-Indians].
    We know them in the Oral Geneologies, that may be found
    through mediZen men in the [Souix/Lakota Oglala] archives
    pf “Black Elk Speaks” thru translator Holy man [John G.
    Neihardt].
    I have sojourned to [India] on field research tasks, and firmly
    bear witness to “Another Hemisphere of [Zarahemla]“.
    May God Bless your Christian Walk.

  20. Rockgod28 says:

    The Big Bang is a myth.

    Black Holes are not real.

    Most, if not all, GR physics and SR physics can not be tested in laboratories, even “electronic” supercomputer labs. There are current modern technologies that have proven GR to be incorrect. In thirty years the Big Bang will become as much of a myth as the the perception that the world was flat.

    You don’t think that is possible?

    Here is a simple demonstration. Everybody “knows” from elementary school and up the Earth orbits the Sun. What if I told you that isn’t true? Demonstration time. Point one finger down. The end of your finger represents the Sun. Next using your other hand point your finger up. The end of your finger now represents a planet. Orbit the Earth around the Sun. This is what everyone “knows”. Except one forgotten fact about the Sun. It isn’t stationary. The Sun does one revolution around the galaxy every 230 million years at a rate of over 500,000 miles per hour or 143 mi/s.

    That means you now lift your hand that has the finger that represents the Sun. What does the planet have to do to keep up? ORBIT or CHASE?

    It is very obvious the planet chases the Sun, not orbit.

    This simple demonstration shows that everything we are taught is wrong. It is the same as believing the world is flat, in the Big Bang or Black Holes. You are free to continue to believe the Earth orbits the Sun, but that is not reality as the planets chase the Sun.

    Black Holes are a fiction. As real as one times zero equals infinity.

  21. Duwayne Anderson says:

    Rockgod 28 wrote: “Here is a simple demonstration. Everybody “knows” from elementary school and up the Earth orbits the Sun. What if I told you that isn’t true?”

    I’d say you’re a candidate for the Mormon Church. Why don’t you give the missionaries a call?

    • Rockgod28 says:

      So what?

      Am I wrong?

      • Duwayne Anderson says:

        Yeah. But trying to prove it to you would be as impossible as proving to Mormons that ancient Americans didn’t actually domesticate horses or smelt steel swords with which to arm million-man armies.

        Don’t get me wrong, though. I do appreciate the non-Mormon wackiness, as it illustrates nicely the equivalent intellectual validity of LDS apologists.

        • Rockgod28 says:

          So you avoid answering the question. That is typical of doubters and prideful people such as yourself.

          I point out a simple demonstration that shows the Big Bang is a myth and black holes are not real by proving something we have been taught since elementary isn’t true. Just as the fact of the Sun is in motion has expanded our understanding there still may come the day horses are discovered as well as other finds proving the Book of Mormon true.

          That is faith. I believe there were swords of smelted metal, horses and other yet unproven things. Why? I believe they are true just waiting for the right time to be discovered in the Lord’s due time. It is all there, but those discoveries are not the basis of my faith or humility.

          I humble myself that I do not understand everything. I am a mortal man. I put my trust not in myself or the world, but my God and his Son.

          What is true is there was no Big Bang and Black Holes are not real.

          • Duwayne Anderson says:

            Rockgod 28 wrote:”So you avoid answering the question”

            I didn’t avoid your question — I answered it with “yeah.”

            Rockgod 28 wrote: “I humble myself …”

            There’s nothing humble about someone who can’t conceive of the possibility that they’re wrong.

  22. Setaf says:

    Hey, I haven’t seen Duwayne comment is quite some time now. Glad to see he’s still kicking. His calling in life is prowling LDS news articles and posting his opinions. The cliche of leaving the Church but not leaving it alone fits him to a T. I’ve felt kind of sorry for him all these past few years. He needs to let it go and get on with his life. Duwayne, I sometimes wonder if you have doubts about your actions, but refuse to admit it to yourself. Anyway, take care and take it easy.

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      As long as we’re taking note of anecdotes, “Setaf” illustrates the typical way in which Latter-day Saints respond to criticism:

      1) Smug self righteousness

      2) Ad hominem (try to switch the subject from the facts of the discussion to the critic).

      3) The old cliche that Mormon critics are driven by the devil (as in, they can leave the church, but can’t leave it alone — bla, bla, bla).

      4) More smug self righteousness about getting a life.

      5) More ad hominem insinuations about motive, etc.

      But the one thing you hardly ever see from a Mormon apologist is an honest, intelligent, focused-on-the point discussion. It’s enough to make a person wonder — if the Mormon Church really is the “only true church,” why are the Mormon apologists such rotten people, and terrible scholars?

  23. Mormon Explorer says:

    @Duwayne Anderson: Your fervor waxes loud. I feel like I have come to some similar conclusions where I have had to adopt the VOE over the scriptural or prophetic teachings/conjecturing on conflicting matters. I was worried my faith (and membership in the LDS church) just splattered like a bug on a windshield. And I suppose it did to a large degree. But ultimately, I have since worked back to the most rudimentary drivers for religion in the first place from an anthropological point of view, and I came to a logical string of conclusions:
    1. Men and Women act on both an innate conscience and instinct.
    2. This self awareness and conscience drives us to be preoccupied with and seek relief or explanation for death, pain, and our own mistakes.
    3. Mankind somewhere along the way found success in dealing with these problems through “spiritual development.” Revealed or evolved – all religious are designed to deal with this stress.
    4. Success at connecting to the spiritual world (regardless of the practice) comes by “being good” or through self discipline, internal commitment, drive, or even crises.
    5. Regardless of accuracy and factuality, religious people still successfully find spiritual satisfaction.
    6. No one will ever have all the facts. If they make a decision in good faith its to their credit (including choosing a religion).
    7. So, ultimately, religion is everything yet nothing at the same time! It helps us cope (or find god depending on your perspective) but ultimately life is developing your desire to choose right or wrong.
    More succinctly, religion has value. And even if completely flawed and inaccurate or even based on pure fibs, by practice, the Mormon religion is probably as good as any and better than most at helping people connect with spiritual things. Furthermore, the temple is a place where we can continue to connect in an extremely focused environment. Is that worth giving up alcohol, cigarettes, and porn? Is it worth paying 10% of my income? Is it worth getting out of bed on Sunday mornings and serving all day? I say yes but to each his own.
    So ask yourself: is your sense of right and wrong innate or was it learned? If it was innate at least on some level then is it worth developing?
    I do ask myself if I am truly honest in my temple recommend interview if I seriously doubt that everything happened the way Joseph Smith said it did…Book of Mormon and all. I tell the Bishop that I hope it is true, or at least the meaning or purpose of it is true in some way that matters. And that seems to be a happy medium. Is it a testimony? I guess it is to some degree. If the work of J.S. leads men and women finding god, then yes I have a testimony of him.
    We don’t have all the answers and there very well may be some type of understanding that will pull it all together. If Mormonism exists for 10,000 years, maybe these years are simply some building blocks to a greater work God has to bring all the people under one belief system through religious evolution… (Only a random example…) So I am comfortable with VOE without feeling like I’m being duped by the church. I think I could leave but I would find myself in the same predicament with any other religion or even atheism. For now, I’m happy to be a hoping, doubting, agnostic-leaning Mormon, who likes the story that perhaps there is some type of design and purpose of this messy, painful life. For now I will be good and try and help others anyway I can.

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      Mormon explorer wrote: “More succinctly, religion has value.”

      So does dope, from the POV of the addict.

      Mormon explorer wrote: “And even if completely flawed and inaccurate or even based on pure fibs, by practice, the Mormon religion is probably as good as any and better than most at helping people connect with spiritual things.”

      Is fraud ever the path to spiritualism?

      I don’t think Mormonism is a better path to spiritualism than Yoga, or Buddhism, or mountain climbing. When you talk about Mormonism you remind me of an alcoholic worshiping their bottle.

      Mormon explorer wrote: “Furthermore, the temple is a place where we can continue to connect in an extremely focused environment.”

      Wow. Your experience is different than mine. The LDS temple is a factory. You get in line and move along the conveyor belt, being indoctrinated in the most absurd absurdities, plagiarizer from Masonic rituals. Why, the temple doesn’t even have any meditation rooms. And if you linger too long in the “Celestial room” a worker bee will soon come along and ask you to leave so the next round can come through.

      The Mormon temple is, perhaps, the *least* spiritual place I’ve ever been.

      Mormon explorer wrote: “Is that worth giving up alcohol, cigarettes, and porn?”

      You’d do all that, if you were not Mormon? You need a leash to be a good dog?

      Mormon explorer wrote: “Is it worth paying 10% of my income?”

      Is extortion ever worth it? Can one buy spirituality?

      Mormon explorer wrote: “Is it worth getting out of bed on Sunday mornings and serving all day?”

      You can’t get out of bed without the Mormon Church telling you to? You can’t “serve” unless you “serve” the Mormon Church?

      Sheesh. They’ve got you by the nose, and you don’t even know it.

      Mormon explorer wrote: “I say yes but to each his own.”

      Good for you. But the Mormon Church certainly doesn’t say “to each his own.” The Mormon Church says that, unless you sustain their corrupt leaders and pay them money you can’t even attend the temple wedding of a family member.

      Mormon explorer wrote: “I seriously doubt that everything happened the way Joseph Smith said it did…Book of Mormon and all. I tell the Bishop that I hope it is true.”

      Why would you hope for something as absurd and worthless as that? Why not hope for world peace, or something meaningful?

      When half-way Mormon apostates say they “hope” Joseph Smith was not a fraud I’m reminded of just how rotten Mormonism really is. As you have demonstrated, the Mormon Church sets itself on a throne as a proxy for good. It really does mess with a person’s ideas of morality. You measure yourself and others by their relationship to the church, instead of your relationship to humanity. Such as shame.

  24. Erick says:

    Trytoseeitmyway:

    Thank you for the response to my question. I’d like to engage your points for just a moment. You say:

    “It strikes me that many interpretations of experiences may not reduce themselves to testable hypotheses, but that the experience itself (and perhaps related events as well) can still be “empirical support” for that interpretation. Does that make sense?”

    I agree that it makes sense in that I believe I understand the point you are trying to make, but I have some reservations against accepting this proposition. I’m hung up on the phrasing “interpretations of experience”. For example, you refer to “transcendence”, which I am not wholly convinced of. I see it as theological concept that borrows it’s rationality from logic, but inherently (obviously) non-practical. Obviously I am beating around the bush and stating the obvious that it is non-empirical, which I understand is sort of the point. What I object to though, is that ultimately transcendent arguments have something of a sixth sense implied them, because it requires humans to depend on a form sensory experience (there has to be some methodology for detecting, identifying, and cataloguing, these experiences) that we can’t all agree on. Now I can accept the possibility that this might be the case, but it would seem strange to me that if God’s purpose is to create an entirely personal and subjective method for revealing himself and his will, that he would also try and reinforce that through a community of people who are to meet together and reinforce one another. In other words, in such a framework there would be no need for Given’s “letter to the doubter”, but rather it would be God who is responsible for pointing us to the transcendent reality of existence.

    Needless to say, I am not under some strange impression that I am unaffected by emotions or any form of irrationality in the formation of worldview…but I tend to be more of an empiricist. As a point of friendly disagreement, it strikes me that the prudent course is to be entirely suspicious of arguments for “transcendence”.

    • trytoseeitmyway says:

      Well, sure, be suspicious. But don’t rule it out a priori. Then when the Spirit actually speaks to you, you will be open to the idea that you are responding to something perceptively real.

      Notice, though, that’s exactly what you say you object to. That is, you say, “What I object to though, is that ultimately transcendent arguments have something of a sixth sense implied them, because it requires humans to depend on a form sensory experience (there has to be some methodology for detecting, identifying, and cataloguing, these experiences) that we can’t all agree on.” You should understand that *agreement* isn’t the criterion. What human experience is really about – we claim – is the revelation and development of character, on the path toward eternity. From that point of view, the contradiction you say you perceive (that truth-finding would be a personal process, and yet believers are asked to join together in the Church) dissolves. It is personal, it is about character, it is about agency, but our choices can (and should) include service to and support of others.

      I would suggest that you spend less time trying to validate your suspicions – where does that lead, ultimately? – and more trying to prepare yourself to recognize the spiritual interventions that are in your life every day. Rev. 3:20.

      (Forgive me for now exiting our dialog. I have work and travel which require my attention for the next several days.)

      • Erick says:

        Best of luck on your work and travels.

        Just a final response. This is a difficult thing to agree upon because we are treating the “Spirit” as some kind of experience that we should all agree exists. Now I recognize that you say that agreement isn’t the issue, but if that were really case then why do we bother discussing this? Why send missionaries out? I politely disagree.

        I don’t know how to be either receptive or unreceptive to the spirit “speaking” to me. I would place the onus on God for making that manifestation clear to me. I am not interested though in taking my everyday human experiences and arbitrarily attributing them to God or his Spirit just to satisfy a hope in a worldview that depends on Mormonism provide me with purpose. So, in short, I’m not closed to the idea that I could be wrong and might need to change, but the Mormon rhetoric is heavily implicit that I should be earnestly waiting for the confirmation from God that Mormonism is “true”, as we like to say.

        I have little doubt that if I invested myself less in doubt and more in “…preparing [myself] to recognize the spiritual interventions that are in [my] life every day” I would be able to start sensing some sort of “transcendence”. What I wouldn’t know, however, is whether I’m just feeling transcendence or whether I am actually experiencing a true transcendent reality. That doesn’t get me anywhere either. In other words, I am admitting a bias here that I am not ashamed of, that I either expect God to transcend his own transcendence and enter my reality for a moment (the First Vision perhaps??) if he has real expectations of me…or at least make my experiences of transcendence persuasive enough that I am willing to get on board. At present though, I still haven’t seen any justification for why I should expect this????

  25. Meg Stout says:

    I enjoyed Terryl Givens’ talk. However, I felt that for a written document, more meat would have been nice in each section.

    I also felt that the essay was aimed at young people (or old, I suppose) whose “faith” is crystalline and naive.

    I was determined to put away the Mormon church as a youth, but I had one of those experiences I interpreted as the divine asking me to continue active in the LDS faith.

    To make a long story short, I doubted for decades, while I served as a Relief Society president, missionary, and generally faithful temple-married (then divorced, then temple married again) adult.

    Then one day it all fell into place. I realized the God I had experienced was the God of which Joseph Smith taught, a God and experience not taught by other religions. I determined that God had not merely asked me to travel through life as a Mormon for a time on my journey for some purpose known only to Him, but had asked me to remain in the Church because, darn it, the Church *is* true to His purposes.

    I would wish for others that they could develop a robust faith, one not shattered or destroyed like the crystalline, naive faith that needs Terryl Givens’ essay. But as long as some wander in doubt, may they embrace that experience of choosing their path in hope despite not knowing.

    In the end, I believe every honest heart will be embraced by God in His kingdom, despite the errors that cloud those honest souls in this life. Because of my faith and hope, I’ll be spending a lot of time in the temple doing proxy ordinances so all may eventually come to God, as I believe is consistent with God’s will.

    For those who believe something else will save mankind (other than the gospel as taught by the LDS church) I hope your worldview admits a loving God who will save the honest in heart, even if they were (gasp) Mormon.

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      Meg Stout wrote: “I’ll be spending a lot of time in the temple doing proxy ordinances so all may eventually come to God,”

      Why don’t you join the Peace Corps, Habitat for Humanity, Doctors without Borders, or something like that?

  26. Erick says:

    “I also felt that the essay was aimed at young people (or old, I suppose) whose “faith” is crystalline and naive.”

    I wonder if it’s not time that we stopped using the phrase “naïve” to describe people with doubts. When this argument is fleshed out, generally what I see is that just like Given’s paper demonstrates, what the label of “naïve” is intending to communicate is the idea that the person in question hasn’t embraced one of the many rationalizations necessary to make Mormonism ever so slightly plausible. They don’t brush aside erroneous statements from Church leaders, or they haven’t bought into one of the many geography theories about the Book of Mormon, they don’t overlook serious moral failings of Church leaders, such as racism, sexism, abuses of power, etc. Frankly it comes across like a humble insult.

  27. Duwayne Anderson says:

    Sean wrote: “You are arguing a spiritual concept but completely removing any room for faith.”

    You have an extraordinarily limited view of spirituality. You also misunderstand my view of “faith.” I’m not arguing against the formation of opinions under the constraints of limited information — I’m arguing against the formation of opinions in direct contradiction to evidence at hand. Mormonism is what I call irrational faith — faith in things that are contrary to factual evidence.

    Sean wrote: “Spirituality and faith are inextricably connected.”

    Not true, and also beside the point. As I said above, I’m not opposed to the formation of conclusions with less-than-complete information. I’m opposed to irrational conclusions that are formed in direct opposition to evidence at hand. Your faith is irrational because your faith compels you to ignore/deny evidence at hand, in favor of the myths and superstition of your religion.

    Sean wrote: “Where is the room to believe if there is undeniable proof available?”

    You are using a strawman argument. You might want to look up the definition and try to avoid it in the future.

    Sean wrote: “If God showed up today and let you view these documents, he would remove your agency to believe.”

    What rubbish. If there is a god, as you assert, then he has demonstrably revealed his secrets about the universe to scientists — and *not* superstitious wackos. That being the case, god (assuming he exists) must really, really, really value the scientific method. If there’s a god, then the evidence suggests that he hates the sort of irrational faith that you promote/extol/worship.

    Sean wrote: “You pull a double negative and say I must prove my argument right while you don’t have the job of proving me wrong.”

    No, Sean. When you make an assertion it really is your job to prove it.

    Certainly you understand this in areas outside your religious stupor. If someone told you that the Easter Bunny exists, you wouldn’t feel compelled to prove them wrong, would you? Of course not. It’s their job to prove the existence of the Easter Bunny, and if they can’t do it then the default position is that the Easter Bunny is just a figment of their imagination.

    May I assume you don’t believe in the Easter Bunny? Have you proven he doesn’t exist?

    Same goes for Zeus, Jupiter, the Corn God, the Sun God, and a thousand other gods. You don’t believe in any of them — may I presume? Yet I doubt you have constructed a formal “proof” against any of them.

    Like most superstitious people, you simply worship the god of your fathers without giving it much thought. And, like most superstitious people, you seem full of yourself — insisting that your god be the default position, and that others must prove he doesn’t exist.

    Sean wrote: “I do assert that God lives and the BOM teaches correct doctrine.”

    So? Your assertions don’t make it true. You sound like a three-year-old kid saying “is so, is so, is so.”

    Throwing a tantrum won’t make your god a reality.

    Sean wrote: “I have millions of widely disseminated and un-connected members asserting a spiritual experience attesting to that.”

    If they’re Mormons, they aren’t “unconnected.” And, in case you hadn’t noticed, there are about a billion Muslims that say your god and your religion are bogus. So, if we put Mormonism to a popular vote, it looses hands down.

    Still want to play the vote card?

    Sean wrote: “Our problem is that we look at the same (incomplete) evidence and draw different conclusions.”

    No, Sean. Your problem is that you ignore evidence that conflicts with Mormonism.

    Worse, you don’t even allow the possibility that any future evidence will ever change your opinion. Evidence is irrelevant to you — an inconvenience that gets in the way of your belief in superstition and absurdity — as evidenced by the way you’ve responded to my question: “What verifiable and objective evidence (if it existed) would be sufficient for you to denounce Mormonism.”

  28. Duwayne Anderson says:

    trytoseeitmyway wrote: “…this is obviously a guy who would rather pick a fight than retain a shred of credibility.”

    Mormons are indoctrinated to believe bad things about critics. It’s a defense mechanism they use to ignore things they can’t handle.

    trytoseeitmyway wrote: You would have to be the most tendentious doofus on the face of the Earth to get “the universe is comprehended and controlled by a lump of matter the size of a human brain” out of any reasonable interpretation of D&C 130:22.

    Actually, you’d have to be a lying Mormon apologist to deny it. D&C 130:22 says god is a man, and that man’s body is just like gods. If god controls the universe, and god is a man, then a brain the size of a man’s controls the universe.

    trytoseeitmyway wrote: “It just doesn’t say that and no one thinks that.”

    That’s because your’re intellectually unable to draw the obvious, necessary, and logical conclusions. Like most Mormons, you probably just sit there with an empty dumb grin on your face, not realizing the logical consequences of the absurd superstitions you subscribe to.

    trytoseeitmyway wrote “Ditto (this is the other example I looked at) for “[t]he Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the earth is only 7,000 years old,” citing D&C 77:6.”

    Ditto the earlier comment about lying Mormon apologists. The scripture states unambiguously that the earth is only 7,000 years old.

    trytoseeitmyway wrote: “The Church DOESN’T teach that, ”

    It’s in the scriptures, so the Church does teach it — lying Mormon apologists not withstanding.

    trytoseeitmyway wrote: “as Anderson knows very well. In the words of Henry Eyring (the elder),…”

    Hillarious — a Mormon apologist trying to pass off an off-the-cuff opinion as doctrine. You guys are such hypocrites.

  29. Duwayne Anderson says:

    Connor wrote: Your problem, Duwayne, is that you believe a single statement made in the Ensign or by a General Authority or in the Manuals or the Prophet makes that statement doctrine.

    Pardon me, Connor, but *your* problem is that you think the statements made by Mormon scriptures and Mormon prophets are *not* doctrine. Doctrine is, by definition, what the church teaches. The sources I posted were all from church publications — and that makes them doctrine.

    Connor wrote: “This is the very type of black and white thinking that Givens was warning against.”

    Givens is the ultimate black-and-white thinker, because in his world view Mormonism is true. Somehow, someway, at some level, it’s true. All other facts, evidences, etc. can give way — as long as the one black-and-white reality of “the church is true,” is maintained.

    My POV is the opposite of “black and white” because I’m actually willing to allow for the possibility that Mormonism is a fabrication — something that no “black-and-white” thinking apologist can ever allow themselves to do.

    Connor wrote: “Who can say that those statements given were not metaphorical, or even completely false?”

    Well, Connor — of *course* they are false. That’s the *point.*

    Connor wrote: “There are many ways to remain a member in good standing,..”

    That’s a strawman argument, Connor. I didn’t assert the requirements for “remaining a member in good standing.” I asserted what the church teaches — and then I backed it up with reference to church sources.

    To be a member in good standing, one simply needs to pay the church money and lie during the temple recommend interview. You don’t even have to believe in Jesus or god, to be a member in good standing — just pay your cash, keep your mouth shut, and believe whatever the hell you want.

    But, as I said, that’s not the point. The point is what the church teaches — and I supported every one of my assertions with examples from church literature.

  30. Duwayne Anderson says:

    trytoseeitmyway wrote: “The fact that the scientific method requires testable hypothesis does not mean, therefore, that only testable hypotheses can be accepted as statements of truth.”

    Of course — people “accept” all sorts of nonsense as “statements of truth.” You should know. You do it yourself.

    The question is one of rational thinking — you can believe whatever horseradish suits your superstitious mind, but you can’t simultaneously lay claim to being rational.

  31. Duwayne Anderson says:

    trytoseeitmyway wrote: “Many billions of human beings have found this to be so. Belief in deity and in some form of immortality are the two most common characteristics of anthropology. It makes sense that there would be a reason for that.”

    Evolution explains nicely how superstition arises. Basically, superstitious activity arises from the fact that a false positive (failure to see the lion in the grass) is often more deadly than a false negative (attributing a lion in the grass to wind blowing the grass). This is particularly true when it comes to pattern finding and correlative association (better to think something’s a berry, and reach for it, than to miss the beery because of a lack of recognition). In fact, pigeons can be taught the same sort of learned superstitious activity as you (and the experiments are reproducible) — and for essentially the same reasons.

    Bottom line: Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make it smart, or right. To mimic your mother — if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?

  32. Silver Girl says:

    Givens makes it sound as if people overheard something a prophet speculated about in personal conversation over dinner, then naively assumed it was revelation from god. What about things that were taught as being correct to congregations over the pulpit, in the temple, and recorded in scripture?

    How do you know when it’s from God? And doesn’t it say in the Doc and Cov that whether it be from his (god’s) own mouth, or his servants, it is the same?

    It stikes me that a god who would give commandments as serious as killing (the stories Nephi killing Laban and Abraham sacrificing his son are still glorified regularly in church lessons), but uses a difficult and easily misunderstood method to communicate those messages, is not worthy of worship.

    Commanding a murder is an extreme example, but real people are making decisions that have very real and serious consequences based on having faith that the church leaders have been called by god to teach his word. And the church leaders directly encourage this.

    While I fond certain things about Givens suggested approach attractive, I can’t attribute it to the LDS Church. When was the last time anyone in supposed authority present anything even close to what Givens said at conference? His approach seems much healthier to me than what the church leaders have taught….but if it isn’t what the leaders of the church itself teach, then how is it accurate to attribute that perspective to mormonism??

    SG

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      Mormon indoctrination is the opposite of what Mormon apologists propose.

      Consider Primary children and the regular chants to such songs as “follow the prophet.” In all this program of indoctrination, there’s virtually never an allowance for disregarding what the prophet says. Mormons are indoctrinated from their earliest years to “follow the prophet” so as to “not go astray.” It’s hammered into their heads as children, during the recommend process, and at conferences where they “sustain” their leaders. Mormons measure worthiness to enter the temple by whether or not they sustain the General Authorities, and affirm their supreme position on earth with regard to the keys to officiate in the priesthood. They stand and worshipfully sing “we thank thee oh god for a prophet,” when the GAs walk into conference. They listen attentively as the prophet and other GAs speak at the great rameumptom in the conference center.

      Furthermore, there’s no scriptural allowance for disregarding prophetic utterances. Instead (as pointed out) Mormons are instructed that there’s no difference between god speaking, or the prophet. Furthermore, in the most solemn settings, Mormon prophets assure members that they will “never” lead the “Saints” astray.

      The only time that Mormons are encouraged to ignore the prophet is when some apologist, somewhere, is trying to pull some Mormon doctrine out of the fire. It’s when they are making excuses for something stupid that some past prophet spoke that they get all ontological and philosophical and grayish in their thinking. But its always after the fact — after science or public opinion has moved on; the apologists are in perpetual cleanup mode, like those pooper scoopers that follow the elephants around in the circus, cleaning up all the elephant poop so folks don’t step in it.

      • Erick says:

        I’m usually not big on attaboy’s, but this is exactly how it as well. Probably not a big surprise though.

        “The only time that Mormons are encouraged to ignore the prophet is when some apologist, somewhere, is trying to pull some Mormon doctrine out of the fire. It’s when they are making excuses for something stupid that some past prophet spoke that they get all ontological and philosophical and grayish in their thinking. But its always after the fact — after science or public opinion has moved on;”

  33. J.R. says:

    Duwayne,
    You use the same arguments that atheists use. You are the one accusing Mormons of lacking VOE for their belief, hence it is incumbent upon you to provide the VOE that their belief is in error. And, in all of your wisdom, do you honestly think that your VOE that purposes to counter belief cannot be effectively countered by someone who might be smarter than you? Your penchant for using the clever term “bass akwards” leads me to believe that your iron-clad VOE is nothing more than re-hashed anti-Mormon arguments. Honestly, there has not been a new anti-Mormon argument in more than a decade, and most of these arguments stem for Fawn Brodie…which Ed Decker and the Tanners then grabbed onto and which still filter through the internet today in various iterations. Moreover, you cannot use your reasons for belief in atheism to disprove a Christian’s belief in Mormonism anymore than a Mormon can use their reasons for belief to disprove your belief in atheism. Lastly, you state that “in your black-and-white world, Mormonism is true.” Really? The beauty of Mormonism is in its nuance. To the contrary, you have allowed your obedience to the “black-and-white” world of VOE to guide you down a narrow path for which there exists no varying degrees of truth. Sounds like a very peculiar religion in which you believe, Duwayne.

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      JR wrote: “You are the one accusing Mormons of lacking VOE.”

      Yes, JR, I am. And I notice that you didn’t provide any (VOE, that is).

      But I’m also pointing out something else — I’m pointing out that Mormons are unwilling to describe any VOE that would ever change their minds. How about you — would you like to try, where your brothers and sisters have failed? What verifiable and objective evidence (if it existed) would be sufficient for you to deny Mormonism?

      JR wrote: “…hence it is incumbent upon you to provide the VOE that their belief is in error.”

      Hogwash. Even *you* don’t believe that. Yours is the argument of last resort, when Mormons have reached the end of their rope and don’t know what to say.

      Do you believe in the Easter Bunny? Have you *proven* there is no Easter Bunny? Do you believe in Zeus? Have you *proven* Zeus doesn’t exist?

      Probably not — and for the simple reason that the default position for any idea is disbelief — and proof is always the responsibility of the one making the assertion.

      You say Mormonism is true. Okay, then, get off your behind and prove it.

      You say your god exists. Okay, then, stop equivocating, and prove it.

      Asking you for proof is no different than asking someone for proof when they assert the existence of Big Foot or Leprechauns. The fact that you can’t prove your assertions, or even make a cogent argument in their defense, is really telling. The folks that believe in the Easter Bunny can’t prove their POV, either.

  34. Erick says:

    “The beauty of Mormonism is in its nuance.”

    Please explain.

  35. LaVerl 09 says:

    For Dwayne Anderson:
    Your arguments work against not only Mormonism, but also against God and science. You proved your blind protectivness of science when you denied that gravitaional speed could be much faster than the speed of light. I refer you to this website to allow your blind faith to get a little crack in it: http://www.metaresearch.org/cosmology/speed_of_gravity.asp

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      They may work against god. It depends, of course, on how you define god.

      My arguments are based on science, and rationalism/reason. Scientists would be completely unbothered by any of them — though (as we’ve seen) my arguments will just drive Mormons nuts.

      Laverl said: “You proved your blind protectivness of science when you denied that gravitaional speed could be much faster than the speed of light.”

      You really should work on your reading comprehension, Laverl. For the record, here’s exactly what I said: “According to GR, gravity waves travel at the speed of light. Having said that, the universality of the speed of light isn’t something that scientists decided upon out of “faith.” It’s a conclusion drawn from experimental evidence. And like any scientific conclusion, it’s tentative — subject to review/modification by future experiments.”

  36. Duwayne Anderson says:

    Wayne Dequer wrote: “Seems to me I said: “Thanks for comparing me to Catholic ladies of great faith. I’ve known at least one pretty well who was wonderfully faithful.”

    Yeah. And seems to me that I replied “I’ve never understood people who glory in ignorance.”

    What’s the point of having an unchangeable mind? What’s the point of having “faith” in a fraud? Is there anything praiseworthy or of “good report” in steadfast faith that the earth is flat? How can there be anything praiseworthy or of good report in steadfast faith in the absurdities in the Book of Mormon or the Pearl of Great Price?

    Being stuck in your ways isn’t something to be proud of. Being incapable of changing your mind in the face of new evidence is something to be *ashamed* of — not bragged about.

  37. LaVerl 09 says:

    As you well know, theoretical physics is based on yet unproved theory. It has taken 60 years to come up with “provable” experiments on some of Einstein’s formulas. In the meantime, it took “faith” to believe those theories. And we continue to come up with new theories like the speed of gravity, worm holes, new big bangs on the other side of black holes, etc.
    I like to use the concepts of the VIN diagram and emphasize where ideas overlap so that people can find commonality, rather than emphasize the differences and tear people apart like you do.

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      The first test of GR was in 1919, four years after GR was published. It’s since been tested in dozens of ways, all with high accuracy. Did you know that your GPS unit is built using (among other things) GR? That’s right — the accuracy would be much worse if the time dilation between earth and the orbiting satellites wasn’t included.

      Testing theories with VOE — that’s what scientists do.

      Say, on that subject, did you ever explain what VOE (if it existed) would be sufficient for you to deny Mormonism?

      • LaVerl 09 says:

        That’s simple. I would leave Mormonism if I found something better and so far I haven’t. I have a thirst for wanting to know where I came from, why I am here and where I am going from here. To me, it’s all about the VIN diagram. I find more vindication for deep Mormon thought in science and mysticism (both of which have more in common than most people think) than I do in any other philosophical approach to life.
        What is your best approach to understanding what this life is all about?

        • Duwayne Anderson says:

          I didn’t ask you what you’d do. Seriously — take time to stop and actually read what I wrote.

          The question is: “What verifiable and objective evidence (if it existed) would be sufficient for you to repudiate Mormonism?

          • LaVerl 09 says:

            And I DID answer your question. Mormonism to me is NOT all contained in one box. It has a myriad of assertions and theories just like all theoretical belief systems. Any of its assertions or theories that are VOE proven wrong are to me just like the theories of modern physics–we move away from those that are proven wrong and into the new ones which as in physics are usually better anyway, because they are more universal in nature.
            I sincerely believe that Joseph Smith meant it when he said, “If there is anything lovely, virtuous or of good report, we seek after these things. This means to me that if we find evidence that some of the theories of the past are not correct, then we espouse the new better information that gives us hope and faith in the dynamic system of improvement. My direction of thinking is climbing upward after having faith in a now defunct theory. That’s why I gave you a chance to do the same with the new speed of gravity formula website which you avoided just as your Mormon apologists avoid the evidences that show it’s time to consider some other explanation other than the ones they hold onto.
            Now to answer your projective question to me–Why are you avoiding my question–”What is your best approach to understanding what this life is all about?”-

  38. Rockgod28 says:

    The Big Bang is a myth.

    It was first called the Primeval Atom by Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian Catholic Priest, who is considered the father of the Big Bang Theory. He called it the Cosmic Egg exploding at the moment of creation.

    Nearly 100 years later that is exactly what the Big Bang Theory has become. The Cosmic Egg is not a singularity or massive black hole that according to Stephen Hawking exploded by a random proton triggering the Big Bang.

    A poppin’ proton that randomly phases in and out of our universe is literally how Hawking says the universe was hatched out of the Cosmic Egg to begin the expansion of the Universe. He has no proof of any thing. Just mathematical constructs that scientist have built upon for decades. The problem is none of it is real.

    There is a popular theory that the Earth because of gravity is able to bend another imaginary mathematical construct called space-time. Most scientist describe it as a rubber sheet. That the Earth orbits the Sun which as a bigger depression, Dark Energy as Hawking would describe it, that keeps the Earth in its orbit.

    There are so many things wrong about all of this. First the Earth does not orbit the Sun. It is chasing the Sun. The Sun is moving around the galaxy every 230 million years at a rate of over 500,000 miles per hour or 143 miles per second. That is very fast. We know that the speed of light according to Einstein is the speed limit of the Universe according to GR.

    Gravity B Probe could easily have dismissed the fact of the Sun’s movement through the galaxy giving it that variance in the results, I am being generous by the way since calculations were redone until it fit the desired outcome, making it appear there was a bend in the make-believe space-time. It is a tragedy of science that we are basing our cosmology on a Cosmic Egg Theory that exploded.

    So back to the Sun. The sunlight we see on Earth is from 8 minutes ago. In eight minutes the Sun as moved 68,640 miles from its previous location.

    The movement of the Sun also creates a chaos of the formation of solar systems which as never been even proven in what I call electronic laboratories or supercomputer models based on known testable physics calculation.

    Science is not science if it just a theory, speculation, assumption or observation. Anyone who accepts theories, speculations and assumptions as facts is not a scientist. Real science is testing theories, challenging speculation and proving assumptions.

    Can you test for a black hole? Can you create Dark Matter in a lab? Can you make Dark Energy in an experiment?

    No, no, and no.

    The basis of many people’s worldview of science is upon a foundation of sand. Not even a house of cards which is more solid than what we are taught as “fact” or “true” in school. The foundations of the Standard Model of the Universe is crumbling under the weight of discoveries it is trying to prove itself with to the world.

    I have faith in a dynamic, violent and infinite Universe of Light.

    No exploding cosmic eggs, black holes, dark matter, dark energy, or dark universe required.

  39. Duwayne Anderson says:

    Laverl wrote: “And I DID answer your question.”

    Well, dear me. I must have missed it. So, what verifiable and objective evidence (if it existed) would be sufficient for you to repudiate Mormonism?

    • LaVerl 09 says:

      Duhwayne reads my answer that he doesn’t like and doesn’t even respond at all to my question, which I don’t like.
      ”What is your best approach to understanding what this life is all about?”

      • Duwayne Anderson says:

        What answer? What VOE, if it existed, would be sufficient for you to repudiate Mormonism?

        I’m not afraid to answer your question — it’s simple. The best approach to understanding is reason and logic.

        Okay — now it’s your turn. What VOE, if it existed, would be sufficient for you to repudiate Mormonism?

        • LaVerl 09 says:

          The flaw in your one note symphony of VOE is that YOU yourself have not been able to personally verify much of anything you believe others have verified. That to me is still faith. The reports of others are not provable unless you have personally experienced them.
          Until I can observe Jesus with my own eyes (and not some news agency making the report) and He says says Mormonism is a falsification and here is the truth, I will go with Him. In the meantime, I like what Mormonism provides for me to have faith in–knowing that my faith is in things that can not be proved by my personal observation alone.
          Now your turn. What verifiable objective evidence do you have to prove where we came from, why we are here and where we are going?

          • Lasvegasrichard says:

            If I may impose on your great conversation with Duwayne . Your question cannot be answered by anyone of the 7 billion of us currently on Earth . And I mean no one . But in response to his question to you … at least what my answer would be . One single lie or attempt at a lie by the organization that bills itself as ‘ the only true church on Earth ‘ . The only thing they have been true at is lies , coverups , and lies about covering up . And when the GA ‘s won’t face the world head on and tell us the answers to why they are lying … well …

          • Duwayne Anderson says:

            Laverl wrote: “Until I can observe Jesus with my own eyes (and not some news agency making the report) and He says says Mormonism is a falsification and here is the truth, I will go with Him.”

            Okay … so that’s got nothing to do with answering my question. Sheesh. This is like pulling teeth. What’s so hard? It’s a simple question:

            “What verifiable and objective evidence, if it existed, would be sufficient for you to denounce Mormonism?”

            When something is VOE, then it can be “objectively verified” by others — in particularly non-believers, or skeptics.

            If you have a personal vision in which you think you see Jesus (or the Easter Bunny, or Ala, or Zeus, etc.) and he gives you a message, that experience isn’t VOE.

            So, why is it so damned hard for you to answer this simple little question?

            I suspect (can’t be sure, though) that (like other Mormons) VOE is simply irrelevant to you — it seems that you subscribe to the Epistemology of the infallible mind (namely, your own mind) and that VOE is incapable of ever (even in principle) dethroning the weird little ideas that have burrowed deep into your brain.

          • Duwayne Anderson says:

            Oh, that’s easy.

            1) Where I came from: I was born, in a hospital. I have the Birth Certificate (VOE) stating my name, my parent’s names, and the city/state of my birth. I had to provide this VOE to the Feds when I got my passport.

            2) Why am I here: Because my parents decided to have sex and my mom got pregnant. Human pregnancy/birth is well documented and totally supported by VOE. You should have learned this stuff during sex education in the 5th grade.

            3) Where are we going? I have no idea where *you* are going, but I’m going for a bike ride tonight. My evening ride is 31 miles. Takes me about an hour and a half (on a good day). Great exercise. Good time to reflect on life, etc. If you want verification of this, look me up the next time you’re in town and we can go for a ride together.

  40. LaVerl 09 says:

    When you say, “Your question cannot be answered by anyone of the 7 billion of us currently on Earth . And I mean no one,” then you make my point for me. This whole subject defies the VOE principle.
    I find it much easier to believe Joseph Smith et.al. that there are inhabited planets out there that are much more advanced than we are and that we are transplanted here by those superior beings, than to try to imagine that we started out as a burp in some stinky pea soup billions of years ago.
    I also find it much easier to believe that this planet is a laboratory to see which ones of us can follow instructions and handle emotional frustration without blowing others up as opposed to the “I wonder why we’re here” syndrome.
    And I find it much easier to think that those who can follow instructions and handle their emotional frustrations can then be trusted to return to our parent planet and learn the principles of how to lead out in the populating of other planets as opposed to the obliteration option espoused by those who have to have VOE.
    And I find it much easier to believe that those in this lab who can’t learn to follow instructions and handle their emotional frustrations will still get to assist in populating other planets, just as assistants, but not as the executives–as opposed to the widely held belief that their kind go to hell or better yet–obliteration.
    Even man-made executive seminars play with your mind to see what you are made of. Those who can’t take the heat and fight the system are washed out.
    There is also an old proverb that cautions us “not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.” When you filter the water and frown at the dirt, you miss the joy of watching the baby grow to adulthood.

    • Erick says:

      LaVerle 09:

      I’m not jumping in here necessarily to debate, but to try my own hand at clarifying Duwayne’s point about VOE. The first thing you should know is that he is not asking you to provide actual verifiable objective evidence (VOE), he’s asking you to think hypothetically. In other words, what kind of evidence “would” it take for you to become convinced that Mormonism probably isn’t true. For example:

      1) “If” a source text to The Book of Mormon was discovered and could be verifiably attributable to a 19th century author, would that convince you Mormonism wasn’t true? Now, I’m not saying I have this evidence, but in a hypothetical world where I did, would that be enough?

      2) If a video was produced showing top Church leaders (apostle or higher) sitting around a table admitting they are frauds, would that convince you Mormonism wasn’t true? Again, no such video exists of which I am aware, but if it did, would you then be convinced?

      3) If someone actually had the capabilities of proving that Jesus didn’t exist, would that do it? As with the previous examples, I don’t believe sufficient evidence actually exists, but if it did, would you then change your beliefs?

      These are just a few possible examples of the kinds of thing’s that Duwayne is looking for. He is free to correct me of course if I am also misunderstanding him, but the point of this VOE question that everybody seems so bother by is to understand whether you are willing to be “rational” about your faith. In other words, are you actually willing to be persuaded by evidence or are you going to insist on believing regardless of how persuasive the evidence is.

      To try and put a finer point on it, allow me a quick analogy. I’m not quite sure about the exact origins of this quote, but I recall hearing from Church members some discussion about the so-called “unpardonable sin”. Specifically denying the Holy Ghost. The general idea is that the Holy Ghost reveals himself to some people in such an obvious way, that to deny him is akin to “denying the sun at noon day”. This same “noon day” argument can be applied to the other side of this argument. “If”, with “if” being the operative word here, someone could provide VOE that was as of a “noon day” caliber, would you still deny the sun and continue believing in Mormonism??

      To sum up this argument, there are two questions and purposes for Duwayne’s insistence upon the VOE issue:

      1) To determine whether you are willing to be rational about Mormonism at all: Simply, if there is nothing that would change your mind, then you are irrational. Regardless of what the truth actually, ie, even if you are right, you are still irrational because you refuse accept the possibility of error…and don’t even seem to care about whether you are right or wrong??

      2) To get some kind of measurement on your willingness to be rational: In other words, how persuasive must the evidence be? What is the threshold required? This is a harder question because it will expose a bias either way…none of us can escape that, but it does give us an idea of how much of a liability those biases actually are.

      Just to be fair, as Duwayne has been saying, the VOE argument works both ways. So you don’t think that I (Duwayne also, if I may be so bold) am not willing to subject myself to the same standard, here are just a few possible hypothetical VOE’s that would persuade me to believe that Mormonism probably IS true.

      Rank Ordered

      1) A literal manifestation from God at a time when I feel I am in sound mind. My present state of mind is sufficient. In other words, if God appeared, literally, right here and now to me…or sent an angel/messenger, whatever, I would probably believe.

      2) A significant display of Priesthood power. Moses and the Red Sea kind of stuff. Blessings of healing would have to be very drastic, like raising the dead. I would be suspicious of near misses and events that can be explained by random probabilities.

      3) External verification of The Book of Mormon’s historicity. Names and places, that kind of stuff. Not the conjecture parallel stuff from Farms (this could be where Bountiful was = fail, This place was Bountiful and here’s why = Pass). In other words, some kind of record, or archaeological find, etc, that verify specific’s in The Book of Mormon.

      Those are just a few examples. Any way, I hope that helps.

      • Duwayne Anderson says:

        Very nicely put, Erik. I think you’ve done an excellent job of framing my POV; I wish I could have done it that well from the start.

        I hope you don’t mind if I comment on your three examples, and how I would personally view them.

        With regard to your first example, if I saw a god-like entity, I would suspect my brain was malfunctioning and I was having some sort of hallucination. Brain malfunctions are relatively common, and Occam’s razor would compel me to consider that scenario over the vastly less common case of god making personal appearances. So, if I were to see/talk with god, the experience would need to be verified objectively by other people, and especially skeptics.

        For example, if some guy shows up and says he’s god, I’d put on my sun glasses and then ask him how I could know he’s god and not some space alien from an advanced civilization like Vulcan. Assuming he doesn’t vaporize me for asking the question, in order to satisfy me, he’d have to subject himself to some sort of testing, performed before me and other skeptics, with cameras and other recorders running.

        If he’s the Mormon god, then he’s a man and I suppose I’d need a sample so as to check his DNA. And, I’d need to send that DNA sample to three independent labs.

        Next, I’d need a verifiable display of power. After all, a person can’t be god without a lot of power! To begin with, I might ask this god to start my old Craftsman trimmer. It hasn’t run for years. Double points if he could start the trimmer without pulling on the rope, and if it runs long enough to trim the yard.

        Then I might ask this god to move the moon in its orbit — out and back enough so that NASA’s laser rangefinder could record the movement and publish it in a peer-reviewed journal.

        When you think about it, though — those tests are pretty minor stuff compared with creating the universe. Even with those tests I’d still be a bit suspicious that the god dude was just an advanced space alien, and not the one, true, all-powerful god.

        Similar comments/examples apply to displays of “Priesthood power.”

        The external verification of the Book of Mormon is an example that I’ve posted several times (it’s a pitifully low bar, though, set there deliberately as a bone to the LDS apologetic community). Such VOE would compel me to believe Joseph Smith had something going with god (or a space alien from an advanced civilization).

        Validation of the Book of Mormon would compel me to seek out the the fundamentalist Mormons and learn the fine art of having multiple wives and running child labor camps in violation of Federal child labor laws.

        But such validation wouldn’t help the Salt Lake City splinter group very much. That sect left the church Smith organized when the apostate Brigham Young brought them to Utah so as to avoid US laws. It’s a shame because, as a member of the SLC sect, I could be a respectable member of society, running Real Estate conglomerates, used car dealerships, or selling vitamins instead of having to do all the shady stuff that the fundamentalist do. Such are the sacrifices I’d be willing to make to the one true god — if he ever gets off his divine hind end and provides some VOE.

        Done with my tongue in my cheek (where else would I keep it?) and a smile :-) and real appreciation for the way you explained the situation. Thanks.

      • LaVerl 09 says:

        I already gave him this answer and he was not satisfied: “1) A literal manifestation from God at a time when I feel I am in sound mind. My present state of mind is sufficient. In other words, if God appeared, literally, right here and now to me…or sent an angel/messenger, whatever, I would probably believe.”

    • Lasvegasrichard says:

      At this point I’m wondering whether all these posts have gone over your head , but I suspect it’s a deliberate denial . No hypotheticals allowed here , but cold hard reality . If I can give you a minimum of a half dozen bald faced , provable lies , that should penetrate right to the source of that warm fuzzy feeling you equate to faith , would you then acknowledge that maybe Mormonism is in fact a lie? You and every Mormon on Earth have absolutely no more facts ( what I call truth ) than the 7 billion I referenced . And in PROVING these lies and the attendant attempt to whitewash them , just exactly when do you stop the self delusion ?

  41. Erick says:

    Not a problem Duwayne, I’ve been struggling to understand why this question get’s so much resistance. It’s one of the most non-threatening questions out there because we each individually can set the threshold. I simply enables us to understand and define our belief systems with a little more precision, and I would think most people would agree that is a good thing?

    As for your point about my “threshold” examples. If I have to challenge my own state of mind, then all bet’s are off anyway. Theoretically, we are all confronted by the possibility that our sense experience is corrupted and deceptive. Practically speaking however, that is either a dilemma we are forever trapped in, or that we more or less disregard. Now, on a continuum of that (sense experience being some true measure of reality), it is possible that we are sometimes deceived by our senses. I did my best to account for that by noting my state of mind, however, I’m also of the mind that sometimes decisions need to be made. The difficulty in assessing “divine manifestations”, I assume rests in the nature of the manifestation itself. How real did it seem, how long did it last, what information was shared, how was the communication handled, etc. All of these would have some bearing on how much rigor I apply to analyzing the experience afterward. For example, if I had the First Vision, as recorded in the “official history”, and God and Jesus spoke to me and said “The Mormon Church is true, get with the program”, while I could speculate on the experience, given my present frame of mind, that would be enough justification for me to have faith and re-activate into the Church. If on the other hand they appeared to me asked me to start burning buildings, or to sacrifice my first born, in that case I may consider applying more of the rigor you suggested. At the end of the day, it’s an idiosyncrasy in how I would probably handle the situation knowing myself as I think I do.

    Your point about Mormon fundamentalism is interesting because that’s sort of how I see it to. How can you really believe in Mormonism, Joseph Smith and the Restoration, and not be more aligned with fundamentalism than the strange corporation that currently dominates the Mormon brand? As far as I can tell, the difference is that fundamentalists seem at least willing to put their money where their mouth is. If a religion where at all interesting to me, a sincere adherence to that belief system is far more appealing to me.

    • LaVerl 09 says:

      I agree with you all that the way gospel doctrine has been chiseled down to a much more palatible presentation to our modern world is very frustrating, but as Moses found out, you can only give a congregation as much as it is willing to absorb.
      The gospel has been restored at least seven times in the history of Judeo-Christian scripture and each time (including the present) it becomes watered down so badly or totally obliterated that it had to be “restored”.
      Because we have not been able to live up to the barage of “the restitution” of all things in this dispensation, we are also getting a much more watered down present system. The city of Enoch is the only civilization in our history so far that didn’t apostatize.
      All this is just as much the fault of the members as it is the leadership.
      That is why I am keeping an open mind to what the Savior might have to say when he comes in all his glory and sets things back on track. But even then, there will be the doubters who will have an “excuse” about why they don’t do as he asks.
      They may be more excited about space travel or they may decide he is just an hallucination sent by big brother to control the masses. There will always be the doubters who find excuses to not be part of the system.

      • Erick says:

        LaVerl09:

        We’re all entitled to our viewpoints, and I’ve hit the wall as far as what I can contribute to the conversation. I understand your point of view, it’s one I used to have. As far as you have demonstrated though, it rests on the a priori acceptance of scripture, and the Mormon interpretation of that scripture. For example, citing the “City of Enoch” as evidence in a discussion where the foundations that would justify whether any such city/civilization ever existed, is reasoning that depends on the conclusion that it is trying to support. As I said, you may believe that if you wish, it’s just not good for discussions when the purpose is to persuade people into a point of view.

        Best of luck to you.

  42. LaVerl 09 says:

    I liked your tongue in cheek parody of the impossibility of proving that observed data is not just another halllucination.
    By the way, your VOE “ifs” remind me of a saying my Dad used to use: “If we had some ham we could have some ham and eggs if we had some eggs.”
    To turn your reasoning around, if god exists in a dimension not provable by physical observation then he cannot be proved by physical observation. Duh!
    And by the way, the Mormon God is a hierarchy of gods (the Eloheim) that are training new gods to do what they have done, so there is no “one, true, all-powerful god.” And yes, if you had a DNA sample of the gods you could find it in the descendants of Adam (ref Luke 3:38).

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      You’ll notice that I didn’t use the word “prove.” Absolute proof is an abstract concept that’s never achievable in real life (but often used by religious nuts as a faux strawman argument).

      Rational people don’t get hung up on “proof.” Rather, we look at degrees of *probability.*

      The reason my question is so compelling (you know the question — it’s the one you can’t answer) is that it illustrates how religiously devout Mormons eschew all pretense of verifiable/objective evidence. Their (your) faith is literally based on the epistemology of the infallible mind; your own mind.

      The whole basis of “verifiable and objective” evidence is bound up in the idea that human minds are fallible, and not to be trusted unless there’s agreement/reproducibility by skeptical minds.

      This, in turn, is based on the simple proposition that if “P” equals the probability of delusion in one person, then “P^n” is the probability of delusion in n people. And since “P ” is always less than one, “P^n” approaches zero as n grows large.

      Simple. Eeesy peezy lemon sqeezy.

      These concepts are non-controversial and natural in non-religious settings. How many times has someone said “did you see that?” or “did you hear that?” These questions mirror our understanding that our senses can deceive, and that we can mute the deception by checking other senses against the observations of others. This is why NASA uses redundant computers on their rockets/spacecraft. It’s just plain common sense.

      But Mormonism isn’t common sense. As we’ve seen with all the gnashing of teeth over my simple question, Mormonism is based on nonsense. It’s irrational to the core. Mormons are scared to death to apply rationalism to their religion because they fear (in my opinion) that rationalism will cause the whole thing to come crashing down.

      To illustrate the point:

      Laverl wrote: “To turn your reasoning around, if god exists in a dimension not provable by physical observation then he cannot be proved by physical observation. Duh!”

      Yeah, Duh. But if your god can’t exert any physical expression in the dimension that I live in, why should I care about your god? He’s of no more interest to me than the unicorns that live on that planet in the Andromeda galaxy.

      In other words, a god that makes no difference makes no difference.

  43. LaVerl 09 says:

    Erick,
    Maybe you didn’t see my comment on circular reasoning. “If I had some ham I could have some ham and eggs if I had some eggs.” Or if you could prove Mormonism wrong would you admit it is wrong? Duh! I’ve already proven that to my satisfaction, so sure I would admit it. The problem is your definition of proof. How can you use VOE to observe something that is not observable?
    Have you ever considered that the problem with people’s responses is in the question itself and not in their thinking?

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      Laverl wrote: “How can you use VOE to observe something that is not observable?”

      Let’s broaden your question slightly to read:

      “How can you use VOE to measure something that is not measurable?”

      That’s a very good question. My answer would be “you can’t” I also think your question begs the following:

      “What’s the difference between something that’s not measurable, and something that doesn’t exist at all?”

      Oh! That’s *another* question that you won’t be able to answer! [My answer would be "nothing."]

      That said — have you apostatized from Mormonism? Remember — Joseph Smith said he saw god. So the Mormon god, at least, consists of Leptons and Baryons that exchange photons. And a god like that should be testable.

      So, what objective and verifiable evidence, if it existed, would be sufficient for you to repudiate Mormonism?

    • Erick says:

      I saw it Laverl09…I just think you’ve misapplied it. That’s my opinion though, and as I said you may have yours as well. You are taking the position that the default is Mormonism is true until proven otherwise, whereas I am taking the default that it is not true until proven otherwise. There is of course, in addition to that, a substantial amount of evidence that I believe supports my conclusion (not absolute proof, but substantially enough to justify reasonable doubt).

      The problem is not my definition of proof, I’ve already given you good examples of what my definition is. The problem is your definition, because you have not yet defined yours.

      As for your question about “observing that which is unobservable”, what do you mean? Are you saying that you are completely unaware of any of the effects created by your deity? You don’t believe that Priesthood can heal the sick, or that revelations can occur, or that God can/does intervene in the affairs of human life in any measured way? If you are completely devoid of any means of detecting God’s influence, why do you believe?

  44. LaVerl 09 says:

    “If you are completely devoid of any means of detecting God’s influence, why do you believe?”
    It’s very simple. I believe in what I “feel”. The connection between what I see and what I don’t see is based on faith. I see what I “feel” God does, but there is no way to prove that God did it other than my belief.
    The theory of evolution is based on what we can see (which constitutes very little proof of the theory). The real essence of the adherents to the theory of evolution is their pure faith based on non-repeatable observable facts.
    If I am going to place my faith in something I can’t prove, I much prefer the God theory to the pea soup burp theory.

    • Erick says:

      Evolutionary biology is not one of my strength’s, so I won’t comment except to say that even if we accept your proposition, by your own admission, evolutionary theory at bare minimum at least provides something to be observed. So, respectfully, I don’t agree with your assessment, but certainly if you “feel” that Mormonism is true, and have decided to trust in that, that is your prerogative.

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      Laverl wrote: “I believe in what I “feel”.

      I feel like your nuts. Does that make it true?

    • Rockgod28 says:

      Thank you for your comments. I have a simple easy way for the theory of evolution to be proven. I call it an electronic laboratory. A supercomputer or network of servers or any computer system like Watson to create not a virtual lab, but a laboratory system that can be easily duplicated, even if it is a Watson like computer, to prove by science evolution is real.

      According to Stephen Hawking man is nothing more than hardware and software which like a computer when it crashes beyond repair that is the end of life. So using his assumption then an animal, a simpler life form in comparison could be created in a digital environment.

      Input all the parameters into the simulation that we know. We can recreate areas that Charles Darwin explored and call the computer system, The Beagle. (Sorry Watson, science marches on.)

      Now here is the test or experiment. We have our control. A simulation with everything set in the digital world to just run according to everything we know for a year in real time compared to real life animals. If the simulation matches real life as close as possible with no interference from humans. Keep away. No interaction, just observation and guarded against human intrusion for a year. Assuming weather is approximated, environment adapted and the animals meet the parameters then the experiment can begin.

      Increase the speed of the simulation. 5 years in one year. Increase the speed. I am sure you see where I am going with this now. Based on a good model and science in an electronic digital laboratory we can flash forward centuries to prove evolutionary theory on animals, plants and bacteria.

      We can change digitally recreate animals Darwin observed he theorized adapted to their environments like birds to eat foods they could not before by a change in beak configuration. It would take a lot of work, billions of dollars, but it would prove the theory of evolution. Yet they won’t. Not because they can’t, but because there is no way for evolution to happen. Natural selection yes. Positive genetic mutation by random chance in the way that will actually benefit the species. No.

      Actual science is experimentation, duplication and fact as a tool to discover truth.

      Neither the Big Bang, GR or the theory of evolution can be proven if this type of scientific methodology is followed.

      Science!

      • Duwayne Anderson says:

        Hey, Rockgod28 — I just wanted to personally thank you for supporting my thesis regarding the conflict between Mormonism and science.

        According to a Pew survey, Mormons hold a more negative view of evolution than any other major religion in America, except the JWs. And (as you’ve pointed out) a lot of them also talk smack about other basic theories in science.

        http://www.pewforum.org/Christian/Mormon/A-Portrait-of-Mormons-in-the-US–Social-and-Political-Views.aspx

        It’s hard for normal Americans to really appreciate how wacked-out crazy many Mormons are, when it comes to science. Your wonderfully crazy post helps to illustrate the point.

        Thanks!

  45. LaVerl 09 says:

    Yep! To YOU that is, but not to me.

    • Duwayne Anderson says:

      So, in your mind, “truth” is relative.

      Interesting. So, in your mind, if a person decides to jump off a 200-foot-high bridge, and they don’t believe in gravity, they won’t fall to their death?

  46. caljimw says:

    Just a few very general observations:
    A couple of quotes were cited from the BOM about how the “land” was covered. Which “Land”? There are several different “lands” defined in BOM (northward, southward, etc.,)
    Less than one percent of the population sites of the area frequently identified by many as BOM lands have been excavated. To base any conclusion about the nature and extent of archaelogy validating or invalidating the BOM is to do nothing more than identify oneself as one of the Blind men of Indostan. Archaeology has, however, unearthed some evidences of customs in the time frame of the BOM that are an interesting fit with the text of the BOM.
    Can any detractor of the BOM come forth with tangible physical evidence (of the type demanded by at least one frequent contributer to this thread) of the authorship of the BOM that would demonstrate that the “official” version of it’s creation is false? The argument seems to be
    “there can be no miracles” ergo “The story must be untrue.”

    On the subject of miracles, how does one explain the sudden, unexplained changes in the physical body, fully medically documented, in innumerable cases of cancerous growths and their sudden disappearance? The trained medical persons have not been able to give a valid medical explanation for what they have observed.

    One writer has timelined his transition from active, faithful LDS to non believer, ascribing the change to falsities in what he had been “taught.” The general context of his writing, however, seems to have moved from a mere removal from his former faith to a full fledged disavowal of anything suggesting a relationship between man and deity. Isn’t there a saying about the wisdom of throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

    On the subject of “Mormon Mistakes” (Mountain Meadows, Priesthood Restrictions, No men on the moon, etc.,), my working life was spent in the legal field. After much study, I rendered many opinions that were mostly validated by others who had a final voice in determining if I was right or wrong, but occasionally they said I was wrong, ie., not infallible. This Church has never claimed human infallibility of it’s leaders, who have, occasionally been “wrong.”
    I became a Mormon at Yale University. The guys who answered my questions were pretty well educated. The people whose opinions I now trust are people who, likewise, have invested their time and their lives in seeking to be faithful to the knowledge they have acquired through hundreds of advanced degrees in all fields of human endeavor. The common thread that holds them together is a mutual acknowledgment that there is a completely unscientific but completely real element of faith that motivates much of their actions.
    Can God, or miracles or love of one’s spouse, mother or children, be proved? No, unless the person seeking such proof can accept the word of those who give testimony of their personal experience on such things.
    I can offer testimony of the fact of each of these as a reality, if someone is willing to listen.

  47. Mormon Buddhatah says:

    Brother Givens provides little on the land mass provided [Lehi]
    and his tribe of [Book of Mormon] nomads. The sequence of
    just how they arrived from North and South [America], or if they
    traversed vaste miles from India/Indian leaves a question.
    Were there at the time “water bridges”?
    Old dispensation of time aside.
    Could [Zarahemla] prove to be the dividing of [hemisphere] that
    links the foundation of [Mormondom] to the [Hindu] national?
    Could the [BOM] be the “bomb” from [Bombay]?

    “Heed Moroni’s Promise, Pray and Search it through.”

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