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Can Mormonism be a Rational Choice?

Posted by nebula0 on September 10, 2008


This is revisiting a theme I’ve already visited on this site, but this isn’t the last time I’ll discuss this issue.  There are intelligent, thoughtful people who are Mormons, and not just that, they are intelligent and thoughtful about their religious choice.  Many people who are not familiar with Mormonism and looking at it for the first time often think it’s so kooky that no reasonable person would be a Mormon.  Likewise, embittered ex Mormons sometimes come to a similar conclusion when looking back on their own involvement “How did I believe that?”  But what I want to demonstrate is that weirdness is a relative quality and it is possible for a completely level headed person to willingness choose to be a Mormon.

First, about weirdness:  All of Christianity is rather strange, if you think about it from an objective standpoint.  It was certainly weird to the Jews who first encountered it two thousand years ago.  What kind of Messiah is nailed to a cross and killed?  Christianity is such an integral part of our culture now, that we are all used to the idea and therefore it is no longer weird.  Weirdness simply means something not known, literally, something that is strange and new to us.  Mormonism, for non Mormons, is certainly full of uniqueness and strangeness, and it is human nature to label something like that as… well… weird.  For some this acts as a lure, for most, as a deterrent.  With repeated exposure to these ideas, and meeting many others who hold strange ideas, strange ideas and practices cease to be strange.

Part of this Mormonism brings upon itself as the LDS church, the largest group of Mormons, tends to make strange ideas doubly suspicious to outsiders by avoiding talking about them.  The most obvious example is the rituals of the temple of course (which is why I posted my temple experiences online), but also other ideas such as exaltation (the notion of humans becoming gods and goddesses).  In an attempt to avoid the appearance of weirdness, the LDS church has taken the tact of painting itself as just another Christian church, with the addition of the Book of Mormon, that’s it.  “Good people, strong families, look, we believe in Christ!”  This is a terrible approach to take because when people inevitably do find out about the elements that the LDS church attempts to downplay those elements now take on not only a strange quality, but suspicious because they are kept hidden.  Hence, the LDS church puts itself in a bind- it wants so badly to be viewed as normal that it downplays its more unique doctrines and practices, which makes it appear even more not normal to others because 1. people need repeated exposure to strange ideas and practices for them to cease to be strange and keeping things hidden hinders that process and 2.  hiddenness immediately makes things suspect.

Okay, so we’ve discussed the strangeness issue of Mormonism.  Now let’s look at how people can rationally choose to be Mormons.  Mormonism has a lot to offer prospective members- instant community; instant unique and strong identities; strong sense of meaning and purpose with life goals laid out; a way to view the cosmos and how one fits in with it; unique access to the cosmos.  By listening to many others who testify that Mormonism is ‘true’, and by being trained to ‘listen to the spirit’ by earnest, young missionaries, prospective members are also given an epistemological path to embracing Mormonism’s truth claims and therefore accessing all of the benefits I just mentioned (ultimately I think that path is insufficient, but that’s another post).  Likewise, it is true that we don’t always understand our own motives, and often in the attempt to be like our friends we accept their beliefs without really coming to that conclusion through thorough thinking.  But, that doesn’t constitute brainwashing, that is common to all of humanity and is simply part of our social nature.

In conclusion, while I would argue that Mormonism is not true, that there are far too many flaws in its truth claims, and while I have many critiques of its communities and church organization, that should not blind me to the fact that people choose, perfectly rationally, to become Mormons.  Just because someone is basing their decisions on what I argue is skewed or bad information, doesn’t mean that person isn’t trying to sift through the information.  Just because someone has what I consider ultimately a bad line of argument, doesn’t mean that they are incapable of argument.  We need to grow up and realize that disagreement, deep disagreement, does not automatically suggest that the other person does not have a brain, or must have a lower IQ than we do.  If we think their arguments are bad, then we should point out how so and not revert to cop out claims of brainwashing which ultimately demonstrates our lack of ability to express our disagreements, not the other side’s inability to think.

I want to add a person postscript to this.  When I was a Mormon, I had a well thought out defense of my faith.  I took the time to learn about the history, to learn about the apologetics arguments pro and con, about how Mormonism differed from other religious systems and so on.  I was being a rational person.  All of my arguments however, were built on a false presupposition, and once I uncovered it and discovered it to be false, I knew the arguments I had refined were no good.  I know many of you Mormons out there will think, “that’s so sterile, what about the Spirit?  DIdn’t the spirit testify anything to you?”  Yes, I thought it did, but here’s the thing.  There is no such thing as pure experience.  As soon as you identify your experience from God, from the Spirit, testifying of something, you’ve entered the realm of arguments because you’re applying concepts to your experiences.  How do you know those concepts are valid?  You have to investigate them.  That’s why as my conceptual structure changed as I investigated and learned, so did my understanding of my experiences.

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41 Responses to “Can Mormonism be a Rational Choice?”

  1. ldsneighbor said

    Here are my thoughts on the subject of Mormonism. I am so thankful for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has helped me so much in my life. I love the Bible, and I love The Book of Mormon. It is exciting to be living in these times when God speaks again and the heavens are open. The cannon of scripture is also open, as it has been any time the authorized ministry of Jesus Christ has been upon the earth (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tz3rggCnhxQ). The original apostles held the priesthood of God. Paul and others warned about a “falling way” and about people who would preach “another gospel”. I testify that that falling away happened, that that preaching of a false “other gospel” happened. After the apostles eventually were killed off, and centuries passed, false creeds crept into christianity. Individual people did the best they could with what they had, but the full gospel of Jesus Christ was lost and had begun to become corrupted. Then came the Enlightenment. Then came the discovery and settlement of America, and the foundation of a new nation, unlike any other. Founded on principles of freedom and liberty, and peopled by many who were escaping religious oppression. The U.S. Constitution came, inspired by God, and ratified by the People in 1790. Shortly thereafter, in 1805 in the young United States, in rural America, was born a boy named Joseph Smith. This boy came from a God-fearing Christian family who read the Bible daily. As a boy he wanted to know which church to join, for there were so many. One day he read in the book of James the promise of God that inspired him to pray and ask God which he should join. It was in 1820 that we went to a grove of trees to pray to get an answer to his simple question of the heart. He prayed and saw a light directly over his head and saw a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ. That was the beginning of The Restoration. Many other miraculous things followed, such as the coming forth of The Book of Mormon, the restoration of the Priesthood from John the Baptist and from Peter, James, and John, the original apostles. I know these are incredible stories. Who can believe such things? Yet I testify that they are true. God lives. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, The Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God. We have living apostles and prophets on the earth today. These are exciting times to be a live. I share these things with you from my heart with love, and in the name of Jesus Christ.

  2. nebula0 said

    That doesn’t address anything I’ve said, but what the hell- there you go folks, a run down of the Mormon idea of the Great Apostasy from a faithful perspective.

  3. Seth R. said

    One thing I appreciate about Mormonism is that it allows room for more approaches than just intellect, reason, and logic.

    Sure contemporary American culture worships the empirical approach, but that’s not the only valid way to live and see the world.

    Mormons still glorify the intuitive, the emotional experience, and the instinctive choice. I find these approaches to be deeply satisfying and often far superior in result to purely rational choices.

    I have often found myself making decisions based on instinct that ended up being far superior to any I could have reasoned out. Reason is a useful tool. But when you make it the guiding light of your life, it tends to make for a pretty barren existence.

    Which might be why I often find atheists to be essentially killjoys. They pretty-much suck all the fun out of life.

  4. Brad said

    LDS neighbor,

    1) Which version of the vision are you referring to? The versions vary, and there are more than one, so we might need you to be more specific. If you could also put any explanations as to why the visions changed, that would be helpful.

    2) How do you know the BOM is true?

    3) How do you know Smith was a prophet?

  5. nebula0 said

    Seth,

    Mormonism is hardly alone in that. Have you ever been to a Pentecostal revival? Mormonism’s embrace of the emotive and intuitive pales in comparison to that.

    I appreciate what you’re saying and I agree that reason hardly uncovers most of the greatest truths about our existence. But, there always must be a balance, or we cannot fully engage in our choices. A religion isn’t fully enjoyed unless the mind it able to freely embrace it just as fully as the emotions do. Plus, emotions are fickle and used alone open us up to manipulation, whereas the quiet confidence we get from reflection can carry us through spiritual barren moments into an even fuller life in God.

  6. Seth R. said

    I don’t care that Pentecostals or E. Orthodox may also have emotive religious components.

    What I am responding to is how many people leave the LDS faith by suddenly deciding it’s time to jettison the emotive component of Mormon belief and “take a cold hard look at the facts.”

    This isn’t about whether you can get emotive worship somewhere else. It’s about the validity of rejecting a religion based on that kind of divorcing of emotion and intuition from your religious view. I don’t think it is valid. And I know an awful lot of ex-members who left because they finally decided it was time to “grow up,” jettison the emotional aspect of their lives, and realize that “there is no Santa Claus.”

  7. nebula0 said

    Seth,

    Wait a second… aren’t facts a part of things? For instance, if you come to the conclusion that the BoM just isn’t what it says it is, that you really think that JS was making the whole thing up, doesn’t that put a wrench in the entire experience, emotional and otherwise? YOu’re trying to divorce emotions from reason, and it doesn’t work like that. They go hand in hand, unless you are insane. If you can’t embrace something with the whole of you, mind included, any emotions that are involved are going to be superficial and will be childish. Why stick around if you believe it to be untrue and attempt to force emotional responses when they aren’t a genuine reaction to that which you believe to be true?

  8. Seth R. said

    No, that’s not what I’m saying.

    I’m saying there are two halves to it – the logical and the emotive. Both are necessary.

    All I’m saying is that “the exit” for some seems to involve quite a bit of rejecting the emotive half in favor of the logical. I’m saying that this is an unbalanced approach.

    I never said toss logic entirely.

  9. nebula0 said

    It is ‘logic’ (too narrow of a word, I prefer reason which embraces many different ways of thinking) that provides concepts for which emotions can react. Emotions cannot provide us with any kind of content, the content must come first. This is why people tend to focus on their rational reasons for leaving Mormonism, because when Mormonism became unreasonable for them, the object of their emotional experiences automatically changed.

    This is also why MOrmonism is mistaken to emphasize pure experience as a means of finding truth– pure experience is a contradiction in terms.

  10. Darrell said

    Mormonism IMO does focus too heavily on emotion at the expense of reason. Hence the talks by general authorities about how “all truth is not good”. Most mormons throw reasoning out the door and focus completely on what they believe the spirit has told them (emotion!). The problem with relying on what the “spirit” has told you is it gives no baseline for truth. Truth become subjective to what you “feel”. I know muslims who believe the “spirit” has told them Islam is true – I know protestants who believe the spirit has told them their faith is true, etc. So, when you have no standard for truth other than your feelings you are heading down a slippery slope. What ANYONE says can be true b/c “the spirit told them so”!! God gave us our reasoning abilities ALONG WITH our emotions. You have to use a balance of both. Mormonism does not do this. It teaches one to rely on the “spirit” at the expense of reasoning. I had Bishops and Stake Presidents talk with me about this repeatedly over the past 6 years.

    Darrell

  11. Brad said

    Seth, if you’re not saying to reject logic entirely, you’re implicitly saying it should be considered, at least in some undefined percentage that maybe you know.

    What do Mormons do when they take a look at the “facts” (which you seem to paint in a bad light), and that conflicts directly with the emotions they’d had about Mormonism up to that point? What then, Seth? If they consider both equally, they’d offset. If they consider one over the other, then they’ll essentially shelve either their factual evidence or their emotions, as you say, and will have to make a decision based on one or the other.

    Which one? You leave them in a conundrum.

  12. Seth R. said

    “Most mormons throw reasoning out the door and focus completely on what they believe the spirit has told them (emotion!).”

    I think this is a caricature of the Mormon position Darrell.

    Keep in mind that not all spiritual experience is purely emotional. I have myself had actual experiences where God directly answered me. This is not something that can be empirically verified. There is no experiment you can conduct to determine whether I had this experience or not. There is no independent verification you can turn to to verify my internal experiences. But that does not make them less real. Neither am I wrong to take them as hard evidence and act accordingly.

    The truth is that every religion has its “mysteries” – things that we do not understand or comprehend, but we agree to “shelve” for now due to the more compelling personal evidence we have. There are things about my religion that I shelve, trusting in God that the answer will out eventually. And you do the same thing.

    Also keep in mind that the essence of a religions faith claims is NEVER empirically verifiable. This is true of any religion. And whenever you are talking about major religious traditions – Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Mormonism – you are not going to find one more empirically compelling than the other in faith essentials.

    For instance, I’ve often heard Mormonism’s Book of Mormon compared unfavorably to the Bible, because the Bible “is so much more empirically verifiable.”

    And the Bible is more empirically verifiable in SOME respects. For example, we definitely know where Jerusalem is, but no one really knows where Zarahemla might be. We have independently verified the existence of many Bible characters – Jesus most importantly. But we have yet to verify anyone from the Book of Mormon.

    So does this make the Bible factually more empirically compelling than the Book of Mormon?

    Yes. It does.

    But what about the FAITH CLAIMS?

    In this respect, the Bible is no more compelling than the Book of Mormon.

    Yes, yes, I know that a lot of Christians like to talk about the eye-witness accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection. But who is to say that this proves the Atonement?

    Even if you could factually prove that Jesus died, rose from the dead, and then flew up into the sky, how does this prove that he is a God? Because he said so? What guarantee do I have that Jesus wasn’t a space alien with special powers? What guarantee do I have that he was the Son of God, even if he did do all the New Testament said he did?

    You see, in the end, the empirical approach will never take you all the way. Religion is inherently about experience and evidence that is NOT empirical in nature – meaning only you can test it – no one else can duplicate it, and be guaranteed the same results.

  13. Darrell said

    “You see, in the end, the empirical approach will never take you all the way.”

    This I can agree with. Empirical evidence can take you to a certain point (ie. the bible is accurate) but not all the way (ie. Jesus was who He claimed to be).

    The problem I have with Mormonism is it requires one to DISCARD empirical evidence to believe in it. Mormonism is a faith that has so many problems with it… the BOM is not what it claims to be (history of the American Indians), the papyra for the Book of Abraham WAS NOT what JS claimed it was, multiple first vision accounts that the church won’t address, MAJOR CHANGES in the BOM, the church lying about how JS translated the BOM, etc (the list is endless). In order to remain a faithful TRUE BLUE MORMON one must DISCARD all of the evidence which shows the LDS church’s claims to be false.

    Christianity does not require this. There is ample evidence that the bible is accurate, that Jesus DID rise from the dead, that the great flood DID happen, etc. I do not have to discard evidence to believe in Christianity. In fact, to me it is just the opposite. The more I use logic and reasoning in Christianity, the stronger my faith grows. It is refreshing.

    Darrell

  14. Seth R. said

    You see, that’s the problem. I don’t think the papyrus has been proven to be anything other than what Joseph said it was.

    I can go into a detailed argument about why this is the case, but it would probably be a threadjack. But in short, no, I do not think that the Book of Abraham has been disproved. In fact, the evidence I’m looking at strongly suggests an authentic document.

    The Church did not “lie” about how Joseph translated the Book of Mormon. They may not have advertised all the details, but they never lied about it.

    And who says the Book of Mormon isn’t a “history of the Native Americans?” The DNA argument is so full of holes that I stopped taking it seriously a long time ago.

    You see, I just don’t buy your conclusions about Mormonism being discredited. Discredited in the eyes of those who were already disposed to regard the whole thing a “grand fraud” maybe, but that’s not the same thing as objectively discrediting something.

    You wrote:

    “The more I use logic and reasoning in Christianity, the stronger my faith grows. It is refreshing.”

    Amen. I feel the same way about Mormonism.

  15. Darrell said

    “Discredited in the eyes of those who were already disposed to regard the whole thing a “grand fraud” maybe…”

    It is actually the other way around.

    The church has been discredited so many times it is almost impossible to count. The church has whitewashed it’s history, lies to it’s members (yes, lies. A half-truth is called a lie – even by mormon leaders), and covers up information.

    You see, it is the exact opposite of what you say… the only people who find out all the “real” information and stay faithful to the church are those who are already disposed to regard the whole thing as “true” and are too scared to face the truth.

    Darrell

  16. Darrell said

    “The Church did not “lie” about how Joseph translated the Book of Mormon. They may not have advertised all the details, but they never lied about it.”

    I have to single this one out. The above statement is so ridiculous. I recently read a talk (I believe by Dallin H Oaks) where he talks about how a half-truth is a lie. You just admitted the church is not telling all of the story about how JS translated the BOM. That is called a half-truth. By THEIR OWN ADMITTED STANDARDS they are telling a lie.

    If your statement above is reflective of mormon ethical standards (which IMO it is reflective of the standards the church applies to itself) then I want no part of it. I am so glad I am not a member anymore.

    Darrell

  17. Seth R. said

    How is publishing the accounts of Joseph Smith’s translation process in the Ensign “hiding the truth” Darrell? They even published the accounts of him using a rock in a hat for crying out loud! What more do you want?

    I mean, it’s not like we take every opportunity to shove every single detail of our history in people’s, faces… But it’s not like we really hide anything either.

    Do you, when introducing Christianity to someone for the first time, start with the Israelite genocides?

    No?

    How about the Spanish Inquisition?

    Of course you don’t. And I don’t expect you to. So why are Mormons held to a higher standard than you hold yourselves to.

  18. Darrell said

    “How is publishing the accounts of Joseph Smith’s translation process in the Ensign “hiding the truth” Darrell? They even published the accounts of him using a rock in a hat for crying out loud! What more do you want?”

    These 2 things would be a good start…

    1) Instead of putting the pretty pictures of JS hunched over the gold plates studiously on the front page of the Ensign, on the internet, etc, – put a picture that is accurate – him putting his head in a hat.

    2) Instead of telling prospective members that he translated using the Urim and Thummim, tell them the truth – that he put his head in a hat and the words appeared on a stone.

    Stop telling half truths (lies!) to the public and prospective members. Tell them the whole story.

    They do the same thing with the first vision accounts. Missionaries parade around telling the 9th version of the first vision as if it is the only one the exists. I challenged 2 elders a couple of months back and THEY HAD NO IDEA that there are other versions. They refused to believe me and told me that I was telling “Anti-Mormon lies” by telling them that JS had other versions that pre-date the 1838 version.

    The church lies when it is convenient for them. Remember the mantra that they have shared multiple times in conference… “all truth is not good”.

    Darrell

  19. Seth R. said

    “Instead of telling prospective members that he translated using the Urim and Thummim, tell them the truth – that he put his head in a hat and the words appeared on a stone.”

    According to historical sources, he used both. First the Urim and Thummin (which he found uncomfortable) and then a seerstone which he put in a hat to block out light.

    That said…

    Why do you find this particular piece of historical trivia so “crucial” to the LDS membership?

  20. Darrell said

    “According to historical sources, he used both. First the Urim and Thummin (which he found uncomfortable) and then a seerstone which he put in a hat to block out light.”

    Exactly. You hit the nail on the head. He used 2 methods and the church only portrays one method openly to the public. They tell a half-truth which by their own admission is a lie.

    “Why do you find this particular piece of historical trivia so “crucial” to the LDS membership?”

    There are a few reasons I find it so troubling. First, it shows how the church is deceptive. They are like this in many areas (only sharing the 1838 version of the 1st vision with perspective members, whitewashing JS’s history, etc). They do this for one reason and one reason only… to GET MORE MEMBERS. They tell the story they “wish” were true and not the accurate story. They hired a PR firm for heaven’s sake!!

    The second reason is because the method that JS used to translate the BOM is very disturbing. We know for a fact that he was dabbling in the occult prior to translating the BOM. He used his “seer stone” to hunt for treasure. IMO (and I would venture to say most Christians opinions) the use of his “occult” seer stone to translate the BOM paints a very bad light on him, the BOM and the source from whence it came. It is not of God… it is of satan. That is the main reason the church doesn’t disclose this method openly. They know how it will appear to the public they are trying to convert. It will push perspective members away.

    Remember their mantra… “all truth is not good”.

    Darrell

  21. Darrell said

    I have got to stop typing so quickly. Especially when I am so tired. Please pardon my grammer above… I used perspective instead of PROSPECTIVE. I need to go to bed!!

    Darrell

  22. Seth R. said

    “They hired a PR firm for heaven’s sake!!”

    So what?

    “the use of his “occult” seer stone to translate the BOM paints a very bad light on him”

    No it doesn’t.

    “He used 2 methods and the church only portrays one method openly to the public.”

    Evidence please.

    Really Darrell, aren’t there better things to criticize the LDS Church on than this?

    I remember first learning about the seerstone while in college doing the independent personal study of Mormon history (which the LDS Church encourages all its members to undertake). My reaction was – “oh, that’s interesting.”

    And that was about it.

    The attempts by people to make hay out such a trivial and stupid issue seems slightly hysterical to me. Really, what the critics are trying to do is play the weirdness card. Oooh, look at Joseph with his face in a hat! Doesn’t he look so stupid?

    Actually, no, he doesn’t.

    And I don’t find him using a seerstone any “weirder” than Jesus spitting in the dirt and rubbing it on someone’s eyes.

    Do you mock Jesus for being so “weird?”

    If not, I suggest you back-off on his prophet.

  23. Darrell said

    “I remember first learning about the seerstone while in college doing the independent personal study of Mormon history (which the LDS Church encourages all its members to undertake). My reaction was – “oh, that’s interesting.”

    And that was about it.”

    You didn’t find out about the seerstone until you were in college? According to you the church is completely open about the use of the seerstone. Shouldn’t you have learned about it in Sunday School, Priesthood, Young Men’s, Sacrament Meeting, or while you were at the MTC?

    So, this is no big deal to you. To Christians it IS a big deal. It shows that the BOM came about through the use of the occult. That IS a big deal. My challenge to you is, if it is really no big deal, then WHY doesn’t the church tell investigators about it? Why do they only talk about the use of the Urim and Thummim? Why aren’t the missionaries taught about this at the MTC? Why do they learn about this from us “antis” while on their mission?

    The answer is obvious… the LDS leaders KNOW it is a big deal to the Christians they are trying to convert and therefore, they are not open about it and tell a half-truth! It is the same reason they only diclose the 9th version of the first vision. They don’t even tell the poor missionaries about the multiple first vision accounts in the MTC. Then these 19 year olds get blasted while out on their mission. It is no wonder 60% of them go inactive after they return home from their mission.

    “Do you mock Jesus for being so “weird?” If not, I suggest you back-off on his prophet.”

    Thank you for your advice. However, JS is not Christ’s prophet. His teachings lead people away from the true Christ.

    Darrell

    Darrell

  24. Seth R. said

    “It shows that the BOM came about through the use of the occult.”

    Oh, Gasp! Scream, horrors. Oh no. How absolutely terrible.

    If you can slap the “occult” label on it, then that MUST mean it isn’t true. Right?

    I never said the Church actively pushed this account of Joseph’s story. There’s a lot of things about any story that don’t get pushed much. All lesson materials are, by necessity, summaries of the historical record. If we wanted to be exhaustive about Joseph Smith’s life, we’d have to add a fourth hour to our weekly church services.

    You won’t find the seerstone in lesson manuals. Of course you won’t. Why would you? It’s not the Church’s job to exhaustively educate you on every aspect of the story.

    This is just not an important topic. I suggest you move on. You’re starting to sound petty.

    Oh, and by the way, nice dodge of my point about Christ. Instead of addressing how Christ did “strange” things too, you instead decided to “bear your testimony” to me. Slick.

  25. Darrell said

    “You won’t find the seerstone in lesson manuals. Of course you won’t. Why would you? It’s not the Church’s job to exhaustively educate you on every aspect of the story.”

    You are correct. From the church’s perspective their job is to “sell” investigators on the faith promoting story. Truth does not matter to them… after all, “all truth is not good”.

    “You’re starting to sound petty.”

    I guess you are right. Expecting an organization which claims to be God’s “true” church to tell the truth is petty.

    “Oh, and by the way, nice dodge of my point about Christ. Instead of addressing how Christ did “strange” things too, you instead decided to “bear your testimony” to me. Slick.”

    I did not dodge anything. I just find your comparison of Christ’s actions to JS’s ridiculous. Christ is God… JS is a man. JS used his seerstone to hunt for treasure. Christ used something that HE created as a tool in healing a blind man. Big difference.

    If the church can use something Christ did to justify their actions than how about this one. Use the fact that God drowned the entire army of Pharoh in the Red Sea as justification for taking out the LDS Church’s enemies. Hummmmmm… maybe that is what Brigham Young did in the Mountain Meadows Massacre???

    Ridiculous comparison… Christ to JS. After all, Christ’s account is right in the bible for everyone to read. It is taught in Christian Sunday Schools every Sunday. However, the LDS Church brushes JS’s occult actions under the rug. You, growing up in the church, did not even find out about it until college. My 6 year old daughter knows about Christ using spittle to heal the blind man. Christ is open with his story… the LDS Church is not open with JS’s story. Try again.

    Darrell

  26. Seth R. said

    OK, so just because Christ is divine, it’s OK for him to act weird when performing a miracle. But when a human does it, it’s ridiculing time?

    Can you think of any instances of mortal, human prophets behaving strangely in the performance of miracles? I bet you can.

    And, there’s a big difference between lying and simply giving a watered-down version of your history.

    You seem to think this issue is a big deal. But I think you’re just being petty.

    You’re Mountain Meadows Massacre reference is a much better example of something that is actually worth criticizing the LDS Church over.

    Your seerstone stuff is just petty and trivial.

  27. Darrell said

    “Your seerstone stuff is just petty and trivial.”

    I understand where you are coming from but wholeheartedly disagree. To me lieing is a big deal. Being a convert to the church I believe I was lied to by the church on this issue and many others. When I found out the truth about how the BOM was “translated” I felt betrayed. If I would have known the whole story to start with I never would have joined the LDS Church.

    There are many other areas where I have issues with the LDS Church (you and I have already discussed some of them).

    We will simply have to agree to disagree on this. I take lieing very seriously. Especially when it comes from an organization which is claiming to be God’s only “true” church.

    Darrell

  28. Seth R. said

    It’s not lying Darrell.

    Just a bad Church education strategy.

    The only reason why I see a need to be all that nitpicky about the details of Joseph’s translation methods is to shield our membership from some of the more trivial attacks our critics engage in.

    But that’s the only reason. If there weren’t that “innoculation” concern, I really wouldn’t care if the official Church manuals spilled all the nity-gritty details or not.

    It’s not lying to pick your message. People do it all the time.

    Honestly Darrell, when you submit a job resume, are you even a quarter as up-front with all your personal details as you are demanding the Church to be?

  29. Darrell said

    “It’s not lying to pick your message. People do it all the time.”

    When you are buying a used car, do you think it is morally acceptable for the car dealership to withhold information regarding the fact that car has been involved in an auto accident or flood?

    Darrell

  30. Seth R. said

    Joseph looking into a seerstone is not an “auto-accident.”

    It’s not even a defect.

  31. Darrell said

    I never said it was. Are you going to answer my question?

  32. Seth R. said

    I didn’t answer because I thought the answer was obvious.

    Of course you don’t want to withhold such information.

    But Joseph with his face in a hat, isn’t flood damage.

  33. Brenna said

    This is a ridiculous argument. You both sound like idiots and both of your religions (mormonism and christianity) sound ridiculous as well. Grow up, all organized religion hides things from its membership, they all think they are the one and only true church. In my opinion it is all a big crock.

  34. Seth R. said

    That was certainly a lucid comment.

  35. Darrell said

    Brenna,

    It really sounds like you have researched things well. (heavy sarcasm)

    Darrell

  36. Darrell said

    Seth,

    So, if you bought a car you would want to know what has happened to it (accident, etc.). I would imagine you would want to know that it had been in an accident EVEN IF THAT ACCIDENT WAS CONSIDERED MINOR BY THE CURRENT OWNER.

    The LDS church considers the Seerstone incident to be a minor event. However, IMO, they are morally obligated to disclose it to potential members. Most Christians, when they find out about the seerstone, consider it to be a BIG DEAL. Just as you would consider a minor fender bender to be a big deal in purchasing a car.

    I am just trying to get you to understand where I am coming from.

    IMO, it is a big deal. JS was dealing in the occult and that flowed over into the translation of the BOM. The church DOES NOT disclose it BECAUSE THEY KNOW IT WILL PUSH POTENTIAL MEMBERS AWAY. They are telling half-truths. You and I will just have to agree to disagree.

    Darrell

  37. Seth R. said

    It’s not just minor according to the current owner Darrell. It’s minor – period.

    What if I’m selling my car, and unbeknownst to me, the potential buyer won’t drive any car that has transported people with red hair?

    Then the person two weeks after purchasing the car, finds out that my wife has red hair and calls me up yelling about how I “lied to him?”

    Did I lie to him?

    No, I just withheld a trivial piece of information, with no particular bad motives, on the assumption that it was irrelevant to the transaction. Because really, it should have been.

    Your head-in-a-hat Joseph is more similar to those kind of concerns than accident damage.

  38. Seth R. said

    “Most Christians, when they find out about the seerstone, consider it to be a BIG DEAL.”

    Hardly surprising, considering that whenever they do come across the information, it’s always through the Evangelical counter-cult haymaking machine. If you get your information from the counter-cult ministries, you’ll never lack for outrage in your life, I guess.

  39. Darrell said

    “Hardly surprising, considering that whenever they do come across the information, it’s always through the Evangelical counter-cult haymaking machine.”

    Wait a minute… according to you the LDS church is completely open with this information. I thought they came across it from speaking with the missionaries?

    Seriously…

    Obviously you have no problem withholding information from people that you KNOW IN FACT will have an effect on their decision. That displays a true lack on integrity on your part.

    When someone is making a big decision they are entitled to have the whole story so they can make an informed decision. The occult is a BIG DEAL to Christians and the LDS Church knows that. Withholding that information on purpose is immoral. They withhold it because they know their conversion rates would drop if they disclosed it openly. The decision to withhold the information has ZERO to do with the fact that they think it is a minor issue. It is precisely the opposite. They KNOW IT IS A BIG DEAL AND THEREFORE, THEY DON’T WANT TO REVEAL IT. It is a self serving decision.

    The church parades the urim and thummim story around as if it is the only one. They also parade the 9th version of the first vision around as if it is the only one.

    What really drives me nuts is, to make it worse, they ENCOURAGE INVESTIGATORS NOT TO SEEK OUT INFORMATION ABOUT THE LDS CHURCH FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES. When I took the discussions in ’93 and ’94 I was told by 3 different sets of missionaries that I should not seek out information about the LDS Church from non-church members. They shared this as an example…

    “If you want to find out about a chevy do you talk with the honda dealership? Of course not, you should talk with the chevy dealer. The same goes for our church. Non-members don’t know the truth about our church. They will share lies and misinformation with you. You should only talk with mormons to find out about the mormon church.”

    Unfortunately, I was niave enough to fall for their story. It was not until 8 years later that I realized the LDS church had WITHHELD INFORMATION FROM ME that I found out from the “Honda Dealership”.

    Your attitude displayes the height of religous arrogance. Your church wants people to ONLY TALK TO THEM ABOUT THE LDS CHURCH and at the same time YOUR CHURCH WANTS TO BE THE ONE TO DECIDE WHAT INFORMATION IS WORTHY TO BE SHARED AND WHAT INFORMATION IS NOT. That is not a compromising position to be in now is it? (heavy sarcasm)

    Morality tells us that people deserve to have the whole story before they make the decision to join or not.

    It is really as simple as this…

    Tell people about the seerstone in addition to the urim and thummim when they are investigating the church. Tell people about all 9 first visions while they are investigating. What is so hard about that?

    As I said, we will have to agree to disagree. There really is no point in further discussing this further. I am done with this conversation unless you have some new information to share. You will not change my mind nor will I change yours.

    Darrell

  40. Seth R. said

    That conveys little to me Darrell, except that you’re rather pissed-off.

    I’ll summarize my position:

    1. I do not think that the seerstone info is particularly problematic. A rather harmless piece of information.

    2. I think the information becomes harmful when you throw it into the counter-cult spin machine and spit it out as some sort of dark and sinister Satanic thing, when in fact, it was nothing of the kind.

    3. I personally think the LDS Church should be teaching this story simply to inoculate our membership against criticisms that are really quite trivial – in and of themselves – but are unduly troublesome for those who aren’t prepared to hear their faith criticized by people. I’m irritated that these kind of “chickensh-t” issues aren’t nipped in the bud early in the process of educating our youth.

    4. That said, I do not find the LDS Church to be dishonest for summarizing its own Gospel narrative the way it has. A summary will never cover everything. It always has to pick and choose. The rest must be left up to the personal study of the individual believer. Leaving out a small detail in a summary is not dishonest.

    5. The only reason that the issue of the seerstone is upsetting is because dishonest and vindictive people have decided to fault-find and turn a small issue into a big one. Really, there is nothing inherently more “weird” about the seerstone than there is about the Urimm and Thummim.” But pathological liars like the Tanners go into attack mode, and deliberately inflate such issues to take on a greater importance than they really have.

    6. The Church has two options in how to address this:

    a. They can nip this in the bud and simply include the seerstone in the Joseph Smith account (which is what I advocate), or

    b. They can refuse to let our critics set the agenda. Why should we have to talk about the seerstone just because a bunch of unhinged counter-cult hacks demand it? Why dignify those idiots with a response? Those who are willing, will investigate it for themselves and draw the correct conclusions about Joseph. Those who are willing to let such a stupid issue drive them out of the Church – good riddance.

    Response b. is the response of many of the “old guard” in the LDS Church (including some of my family). I can see their point, but I do not share it. It seems unwilling to help those who are weaker in our midst. Kind of a sink-or-swim approach to the Gospel. I prefer response a.

    But nowhere here, am I admitting dishonesty by the LDS leadership. The WORST you can say about them is that they just are not willing to give a damn about the things that upset you.

  41. Darrell said

    “That conveys little to me Darrell, except that you’re rather pissed-off.”

    Thank you for your clarification on your position. I am not irritated in the slightest. I just find it a waste of time to continue a conversation that is going nowhere. We will simply have to agree to disagree.

    Darrell

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