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How Can any Intelligent Person be a Mormon?

Updated on March 5, 2013
Philo Farnsworth, the intelligent Mormon who invented television which, ironically, makes people unintelligent.
Philo Farnsworth, the intelligent Mormon who invented television which, ironically, makes people unintelligent. | Source

“If a substantial number of sane and intelligent people believe something that seems to you utterly without sense, the problem probably lies with you, for not grasping what it is about that belief that a lucid and reasonable person might find plausible and satisfying.” - Daniel C. Peterson, Mormon scholar

"But not on the 'Recovery' board. Here all intelligent, right-thinking, and honest people agree with absolute certitude that Mormonism is not simply false, but so manifestly absurd that anyone who believes in it is a liar or an idiot." - William J. Hamblin, Mormon scholar

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being raised in upstate New York, I quickly grew accustomed to my beliefs being mocked by nonmember friends. As I prepared to graduate high school a musical was released wherein my beliefs were mocked on the Broadway stage. On one occasion an atheist acquaintance said to me, “You seriously believe in a religion that's just as stupid as Scientology? Grow some self-thought, you dumb [expletive]."

This latter brand of mockery tends to be extremely common in the safety and anonymity of the Internet, and it never ceases to bemuse me. Here's a news flash: I make no claims to be an intellectual, or a scholar, or a scriptorian, but I'm a smart person and I know how to think. I don't believe what I believe because of my parents, or my Sunday School teachers, or the General Authorities, or anyone else. I believe what I believe because I've grown self-thought. I've studied it, pondered it, applied it, questioned it, dissected it, applied it again, and come away satisfied. But a lot of people won't even consider that possibility because, come on, this is Mormonism we're talking about!

It's far beyond the scope of this article to address all the criticisms of the Church, and that would be a waste of time anyway as most of them have been addressed several times before (see for example these websites). Nor am I attempting to prove my beliefs to anyone. That would be impossible, and undesirable in any case, seeing as the gospel is meant to be accepted on faith. I simply hope to illustrate how, in my view, intelligent people find satisfaction in the Church. People like these scholars, for instance.

An actual, published book.  Clearly not all Ph.D.s are created equal.
An actual, published book. Clearly not all Ph.D.s are created equal.

How Can an Intelligent Person Believe Something so Weird?

“Mormons are really weird. Y'see, Mormons believe that Joseph Smith got gold plates from an angel on a hill, when everyone knows that Moses got stone tablets from a burning bush on a mountain.” - Stephen Colbert, comedian (incidentally, Mormons also believe the Moses story)

Mormons are derided for such things as wearing “magic underwear” (actually, most of us make no claim that temple garments have supernatural powers), believing that God lives on a planet called Kolob (actually, it's a planet near a star called Kolob), and believing that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri (actually, that one's accurate). To which I say, so what? Weirdness only means that something is unorthodox, in this case because it differs from longer-established faith traditions and is adhered to by only a small percentage of the national and world populations. I repeat, so what?

For some perhaps the biggest issue is one considered to be not only "weird" but arrogant and blasphemous as well, and that's the doctrine of "exaltation", known to scholars as theosis or deification - in other words, becoming gods. Yet this general idea is hardly foreign to C.S. Lewis, a few dozen other Christian scholars past and present, Orthodox Christianity (comprising between 200 and 300 million people), and the Bible itself. Obviously it's doubtful that these people share the particular Mormon view of theosis, and the interpretation of the Bible verses could be (and has been) debated for hours. The point is that the concept of becoming gods, whatever that may entail, is hardly as "weird" as critics make it out to be.

The campus of Brigham Young University, which is owned and operated by the Church in Provo, Utah.  In posting it I fear I have sinned against my fellow Utah State Aggies.
The campus of Brigham Young University, which is owned and operated by the Church in Provo, Utah. In posting it I fear I have sinned against my fellow Utah State Aggies. | Source

How Can any Educated or Informed Person be a Mormon?

“I am not astonished that infidelity prevails to a great extent among the inhabitants of the earth, for the religious teachers of the people advance many ideas and notions for truth which are in opposition to and contradict facts demonstrated by science, and which are generally understood.” - Brigham Young, second President of the Church

An increasingly common and more than slightly bigoted assumption these days is that religious people must be ignorant, for if they learn the facts, they inevitably abandon religion. Yet as Mormons become more educated, their level of church attendance and other religiosity factors increase. Obviously we can't judge their level of faith or commitment even on these factors, but they're a good indication. And this shouldn't come as much of a surprise seeing as the Church, for its part, places a lot of emphasis on secular education in its theology and even provides a Perpetual Education Fund for impoverished members throughout the world.

The availability of information on the Internet, though often lauded by critics as the Church's undoing (and indeed responsible for more than a few people leaving the Church), was found in a case study by the Cumorah Foundation to have virtually no net effect on overall membership growth or decline. (The Cumorah Foundation is of course pro-Mormon, but most of its other observations on international church growth are somewhat less than flattering.) The nineteenth-century arrival of the railroad in Utah, which ended the Mormons' isolation from the United States, was similarly predicted to herald the end of the Church. Similarly, it did not.

Contrary to popular belief and despite the often forcefully spoken views of many General Authorities through the years, the Church doesn't have a doctrine against, say, organic evolution. Pro-evolution Mormons ranging from BYU professors to yours truly have pontificated on questions raised by a meshing of science and theology. (I'm not saying that creationists are unintelligent – I was one for a couple years, so I know where many of them are coming from. But mainstream Christianity's real or perceived hostility towards science is a major factor in its decline, so this is a big deal to me.)

I recommend the book Reflections of a Scientist by the late Mormon chemist Henry Eyring (father of Apostle Henry B. Eyring), whose Transition state theory for the rate of chemical reactions failed to win the Nobel Prize because the Committee didn't understand it. He was very intelligent, very educated, and very devout. His views, though expounded at greater length in his book and elsewhere, could probably be summed up in the quote, "Is there any conflict between science and religion? There is no conflict in the mind of God, but often there is conflict in the minds of men."

The first two volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers, probably the most important (and certainly the most expansive) Mormon history project ever undertaken.
The first two volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers, probably the most important (and certainly the most expansive) Mormon history project ever undertaken. | Source

How Can any Intelligent Person Know the Church's Full History and Still Believe?

“[When studying church history] I leave ample room for human perversity. I am not wed to any single, simple version of the past. I leave room for new information and new interpretations. My testimony is not dependent on scholars. My testimony of the eternal gospel does not hang in the balance.” - Davis Bitton, former Assistant Church Historian

As a hobby I study church history extensively from myriad sources, many of them openly hostile towards the Church. One thought often surfaces above all; that it's amazing how badly God's servants are allowed to mess things up without ruining His plans. I've learned a lot of things, good, bad, and ugly. I've learned things that I really wish hadn't happened, things that have upset me for days on end and forced me to reevaluate long-held assumptions. But when all is said and done, as I step back and look at the big picture, I see God's hand over the Church's progress and destiny. I can't honestly believe that it would still be here without divine protection and guidance, considering everything it's been (and still is) up against.

Of course, a few historical issues are more complicated than most. Why, for several decades, did many men in the Church take multiple wives, including in a few cases women who were already married? Why were Mormons of African descent barred from the priesthood and temple ordinances between 1847-ish and June 1978? Why doesn't Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Abraham and its facsimiles match the consensus of modern Egyptologists? These issues deserve more thought and consideration than, say, a trivial mistake made by a past prophet. But after doing a lot of research and appreciating their complexity, I don't consider them to be deal-breakers.

The Church is routinely accused of hiding uncomfortable facts about its history. I do disagree with its previous traditional approach to history – while it's under no obligation to routinely share the controversial or disturbing aspects which can be found in any human history, I think it's erred too far in the other direction – and many, as mentioned with regard to the Internet, have lost their faith and left the Church as a result. However, the charge of "hiding" cannot be sustained. Many of the “hidden” facts are to be found occasionally in church publications over the years, while virtually all of them are present in unofficial works by Mormons who remain faithful members in good standing.

“There are several different elements of that,” Mormon Apostle, Dallin H. Oaks, once said. “One element is that we’re emerging from a period of history writing within the Church [of] adoring history that doesn’t deal with anything that’s unfavorable, and we’re coming into a period of 'warts and all' kind of history. Perhaps our writing of history is lagging behind the times, but I believe that there is purpose in all these things — there may have been a time when Church members could not have been as well prepared for that kind of historical writing as they may be now... there is no way to avoid this criticism. The best I can say is that we’re moving with the times, we’re getting more and more forthright, but we will never satisfy every complaint along that line and probably shouldn’t.”

The Book of Mormon on display in Navajo and a few other languages.
The Book of Mormon on display in Navajo and a few other languages. | Source

How Can any Intelligent Person Believe in the Book of Mormon?

"The Book of Mormon has not been universally considered by its critics as one of those books that must be read in order to have an opinion of it." - Thomas F. O'Dea, Catholic sociologist

I find that, with the exception of ex-Mormons, most people who mock Joseph Smith's claims haven't even bothered to review his product. But that doesn't stop them from copying and pasting cherry-picked verses that they've never seen in context, or repeating contrived plagiarism theories that require more faith than the angel explanation (Jeff Lindsay illustrates the inanity of such theories in a satirical skit). I imagine their “logic” goes something like this: there's no such thing as angelic visitations, ergo Joseph Smith obviously wrote the book, ergo there's no reason to actually read it. Yet the challenge offered by Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley to his Book of Mormon students still stands:

“Since Joseph Smith was younger than most of you and not nearly so experienced or well-educated as any of you at the time he copyrighted the Book of Mormon, it should not be too much to ask you to hand in by the end of the semester (which will give you more time than he had) a paper of, say, five to six hundred pages in length. Call it a sacred book if you will, and give it the form of a history. Tell of a community of wandering Jews in ancient times; have all sorts of characters in your story, and involve them in all sorts of public and private vicissitudes; give them names--hundreds of them--pretending that they are real Hebrew and Egyptian names of circa 600 b.c.; be lavish with cultural and technical details--manners and customs, arts and industries, political and religious institutions, rites, and traditions, include long and complicated military and economic histories; have your narrative cover a thousand years without any large gaps; keep a number of interrelated local histories going at once; feel free to introduce religious controversy and philosophical discussion, but always in a plausible setting; observe the appropriate literary conventions and explain the derivation and transmission of your varied historical materials.

“Above all, do not ever contradict yourself! For now we come to the really hard part of this little assignment. You and I know that you are making this all up--we have our little joke--but just the same you are going to be required to have your paper published when you finish it, not as fiction or romance, but as a true history! After you have handed it in you may make no changes in it (in this class we always use the first edition of the Book of Mormon); what is more, you are to invite any and all scholars to read and criticize your work freely, explaining to them that it is a sacred book on a par with the Bible. If they seem over-skeptical, you might tell them that you translated the book from original records by the aid of the Urim and Thummim--they will love that! Further to allay their misgivings, you might tell them that the original manuscript was on golden plates, and that you got the plates from an angel. Now go to work and good luck!"

The oft-parroted claim that there's “not a shred” of outside evidence for the Book of Mormon deserves only scorn. Clearly its progenitors confuse “evidence” with “proof”. Indeed, I'd agree that there's not a shred of secular proof for the Book of Mormon. However, even the most dedicated critic should be able to admit that there's evidence for it. There's evidence for every proposition imaginable, whether it's true or not. Does the sun revolve around the Earth? Of course not. Is there evidence that the sun revolves around the Earth? Of course; otherwise people wouldn't have believed it for so long. The sun's apparent path through the sky is evidence even though the proposition is false.

Space and time don't permit even a cursory overview of all the evidences for the Book of Mormon, besides which I've already said that I'm not trying to prove my beliefs. Interested readers, however, are welcome to read this page or the book Mormon's Codex by Dr. John Sorenson. Of course, even if such evidences could prove the book's historicity, what would that accomplish? We know the Bible describes many people and places that actually existed, yet that doesn't compel everyone to also accept the miracles described therein or even the existence of God. (If it did, then archeological evidence would prove the Doctrine and Covenants true, which would in turn prove the Book of Mormon.)

Phrases used by Mormons to describe their faith.  Obviously it's a lot better in full size where you can actually read them.
Phrases used by Mormons to describe their faith. Obviously it's a lot better in full size where you can actually read them. | Source

How Can any Intelligent Person Have Faith?

"Bearing in mind that faith and reason are necessary companions, consider the following analogy: faith and reason are like the two wings of an aircraft. Both are essential to maintain flight. If, from your perspective, reason seems to contradict faith, pause and remember that our perspective is extremely limited compared with the Lord’s." - Marcus B. Nash, Seventy

So far I've focused on more or less secular ways of looking at the Church, but I'm pleased to say that I don't rely exclusively or even primarily on them, and neither does any other Mormon I'm aware of. Because secular concepts of reason and empirical evidence have brought us uncountable increases in scientific knowledge and advances in life-improving technology – and in part, too, because these increases have sometimes been vehemently opposed by religious people – many people decide it's the only way to look at things.

But faith is designed for different purposes entirely. There's some overlap, but for the most part the two methods fill different roles, and many intelligent people find them quite compatible. Faith didn't put men on the moon or discover the polio vaccine. But as much as I love the wonders of the modern age, and as much as I would probably hate to live in any previous century without them, they would provide very little comfort to me if I didn't know what would happen after death. If I thought that nothing I did mattered and that I would someday face permanent oblivion, as would the entire human race and the planet Earth and eventually the entire universe, I wouldn't see the point in another day.

And that's coming from someone with a relatively good life! “But,” Daniel C. Peterson might say, “the vast majority of the world’s population is not so situated, and, for them, atheism, if true, is very bad news indeed. Most of the world’s population, historically and still today, does not live, well fed and well traveled, to a placid old age surrounded by creature comforts. Most of the world has been and is like the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, the slums of Cairo, the backward rural villages of India, the famine-ridden deserts of northeastern Africa, the war-ravaged towns of the southern Sudan and of Rwanda. If there is going to be a truly happy ending for the millions upon millions of those whose lives have been blighted by torture, starvation, disease, rape, and murder, that ending will have to come in a future life. And such a future life seems to require a God.”

Obviously faith in this broad sense applies equally well to any religion, and obviously (as Brother Peterson acknowledges) simply hoping for goodness and justice in the universe doesn't make it the case. As to the first, I find that for me the Church's doctrines are the most logical; that they simply and adequately answer the questions of life. (I won't go into specifics here because, again, I'm not trying to prove my beliefs, and I don't want to criticize the beliefs of others.) As to the second, I think any person of faith would agree with me that it isn't blind. It isn't a matter of choosing something unprovable at random and devoting oneself to it. Various people explain the process differently, but for me the best explanation is still that offered by Alma, an ancient American prophet:

"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me."

I recommend reading the whole passage, because it's all great but too long to reprint here. This is basically the pattern I've followed. I said to myself, "Okay, these doctrines make sense to me, and I feel really good when I go to church or study the scriptures or pray." So I kept going to church and studying the scriptures and praying. I kept the commandments and tried to continually improve myself while recognizing that only in Christ would my imperfections be swallowed up. Unlike many, I've never specifically prayed to know whether the Book of Mormon is true or whether Joseph Smith was a prophet. Perhaps I should have. But my experiences have brought me to that conclusion anyway.

It works for me. God's presence and intervention in my life is tangible. He's gotten me through so much - a social life plagued by Asperger's syndrome, an emotional life plagued by chronic depression, and an academic life plagued by worsening procrastination and insomnia, to name the most obvious and prolonged examples. His influence not only calms me in times of distress but guides me to do the right things and, when I've ignored said guidance and done the wrong things anyway, arranges events so that I get through every challenge alive (figuratively speaking) when reason dictates that I shouldn't be able to unless I'm really, really, really, really, really lucky. If I didn't trust in God and this Church, my life would be an utter mess, if indeed I was still alive (literally speaking) at all.

In a sense, this almost does sound scientific; testing a hypothesis (faith; the seed) and gathering evidence for it (the results of exercising faith; the fruit). But it differs significantly in that a person's results are personal and can't be critiqued for falsified by another. That's why atheists hate it so much and denounce it as stupid. But I see it as a beautiful thing; faith is an individual matter that each person needs to ponder and investigate for themselves. Naturally, we can and should help each other in the process, which is why Mormons hold fast and testimony meeting. But ultimately every person's faith and spiritual path is between them and God. No one can take that away from them and no one can deny the joy, the peace, or the blessings that they experience in their lives as a result.

Personally, I see nothing unintelligent about that.

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    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 16 months ago from Australia

      Joe

      are you talking to me? I'm not a Mormom just an onjective observer.

      Trust me, only the condition of a person's spiritual heart counts.

    • profile image

      Joe 16 months ago

      Ok, one or possibly two issues might not be a dealbreaker.....but Mormonism has many, many reoccurring problematic issues. To ignore them ALL means living in denial.

      I get that you want to bring some meaning to the blessings you've recieved in your life, and therefore cling to your religious faith; but would it surprise you to know that Mormons don't have a monopoly on God's gifts?

      So live and let live, I say, but please don't publish nonsense or send your missionaries into the world to dupe others into believing lies that the Mormon church has propogated for nearly 190 years.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      There is a school of thought which says that all doctrines and all science are so far off the mark that the only reality is the inner compassion and silent inner faith an individual possesses. Full stop.

    • profile image

      Debra 2 years ago

      It's not about being mocked sir. Its about a doctine without foundation. Other than Joseph Smith said....

    • profile image

      Sue Bard 2 years ago

      I now feel like I dug through a casserole looking for a morsel of meat and found none.

    • profile image

      Ronald D Bruno 3 years ago

      Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

      Faith comes by the Word of God. Since Mormons read the Bible (in addition to the other books), any transformation within them that grows a strong faith and thereby fruit in their lives COMES FROM THE BIBLE ALONE. That is a Mormon saving grace. If a Mormon would only read the Bible without being indoctrinated into the other books (which are contradictory), eventually they will realize that they are contradictory and that all they need is the Bible.

      That said, here is a perspective concerning Romney. I voted for him, but many Christians did not which may be one of the reasons why He lost. It had nothing to do with his being more qualified, godly, intelligent and a flat out loving, giving man. There could only be one or two reasons why God did not allow him to become president and btw, God is sovereign and He appoints the leaders of the world for a purpose.

      1. If he became president, that would give more credence to Mormonism.

      2. Obama was appointed to dismantle, divide and bankrupt this country in addition to being instrumental in allowing the Middle East to unravel, Iran to develop nukes and Russia to move on their agenda. Why? To set the stage for The Great Tribulation Period/ Judgment Day.

      I would go with reason #2, but reason #1 was also vilified.

      Our enemies and Israel's as well will take action while Obama is in office, knowing that he is weak and do-nothing president. He actually favors Muslims. Does he not want to fulfill the "dreams of his father"?

    • profile image

      J. Cure 3 years ago

      Mormonism contradicts itself on so many levels, the argument becomes mute. At the same time - it is no better or worse than any other world religion. Honestly it's all bs. I respect anyone with "faith", but don't shun reality when it is staring you in the face. Amerindians have been proven to have zero "Hebrew" so the whole Mormon philosophy has been shown to be invalid. It would be retarded to follow this unless you have a morbid distrust for science - the one thing that we CAN prove on this planet (or else it wouldn't be science).

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Johnson 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I enjoyed this article very much and the comments. I can identify with it all because I did not know God until I found The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

      I did not love God or receive answers to my prayers. I have since I have prayed at the request of the missionaries who taught me how to pray to know if God exists. I believed he existed, but I did not know.

      My first prayer He answered with so much overwhelming love and a voice. I was humble. He did not tell me the church was true. All He told me was to listen to the missionaries. I knew He was reall after that moment and have not ceased talking to Him.

      He does no talk back the way He used to though. That is not His fault but my own. I have become so prideful that I forget to consult with Him on things anymore!

      I know that the things that He has told me are true. No person can take that from me.

      I love my church membership. I don't assume anything about other church members anymore. I expect them to be flawed and mean as well as good and nice. I have seen so much over the past 23 years that I am not surprised by all that is said.

      I don't care what people say, when I know I spoke to God about this thing. I have all kinds of evidence against the church if it were the church that told me it was true, but it was God who spoke to me.

      The people in the church are flawed and make mistakes in the church and in leadership. That is why we must be spiritually independent.

      We will faulter sometimes and need those flawed people, but never depend on them as a witness of whether the church is true. It is every person right to have a relationship with God the Father and to know that He is real and present in our lives as we invite Him to interfere.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      oh, how cold can text be? I meant only to relate, not to insult. Forgive me for my rather rash outbursts. I tend to type before I think, often times its because I'm really passionate about something, though judging by your own comments, it would seem you are just as passionate about your conclusions. I agree, we shall say no more on this conversation

    • marbegay profile image

      Miriam Frenzel 4 years ago from US

      I have read the Book of Mormon multiple times. I took early morning seminary and am familiar with all LDS scripture and honorably served a church mission. Being "converted to the church rather than the gospel" is just another example of excuses LDS have for those that "seem" to be active and then leave the church. You have some nerv telling me that I was such a person and yet you do NOT know me and enough about my mormon life. It is an insult! Why don't we end this discussion here. There is nothing else that I can say to you and I refuse to listen to someone that is insulting and insensitive to others.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      Indeed I also contemplated suicide. My depression sunk so low I would often lie in bed at night and think about the possible circumstances that could unfold. Should some of those possibilities become reality, I would think about the unthinkable. I knew very well how I could do it, it would be quick and painless, and so readily at hand. It scared me that I would even think about it, and I'd often push those thoughts out of my head, leaving them as the "last resort" if I were ever left on the street.

      Marbegay, I can see so much of your life experiences with my own mother, her reasonings and beliefs, how she grew up etc. During a conference session on the beginnings of my Mission, a talk by president Eyering finally helped me to understand where she was coming from. It was called "Converted to His gospel, through His church". It went on to say that most people who grow up, have callings, and seem to be active, solid members to suddenly turn around and leave it all behind, is because they were converted to the church, not the gospel. I could go on, but his talk is the best to follow for the details. Upon questioning my mother further, I had this assumption confirmed. She had never read the Bible, and read the Book of Mormon, D&C, and PoGP all the way through (Though perhaps only once, and perhaps because she was more so told to do it, instead of want/learning) She says she knows all the stories, but that's all she claims them to be. "Stories".

      There is just such a difference I cannot explain, or convince any of, when a person enlists in any church/faith just for the people/feel of it, instead of studying the doctrines, scriptures, and foundation that its built upon (and not by way of claims from either side. In the mission field, I only HAD the scriptures and LDS.org to use for all my research against all manner of claims. Shockingly enough, every strange, contradictory claim that I heard, was answered in some way, large or small, within my Quad, conference talks, and church magazines)

      Forgive me for dragging this out, perhaps I too should agree to disagree, this is just something that relates to me on a very personal level. I should understand by now that throwing out any facts about anything in a heated debate does not change anybodies minds on the matter. We stand where we want to, and only we can change our own minds. Good luck indeed!

    • marbegay profile image

      Miriam Frenzel 4 years ago from US

      Agree to disagree! Good luck to you!

      PS: Why did you take that excellent link down?

    • alien236 profile image
      Author

      Christopher Randall Nicholson 4 years ago from Logan, UT, USA, Earth, Sector ZZ Plural Z Alpha, Western Spiral Arm, Milky Way galaxy, the Universe

      The purposes of my article were to dispute the false but prevalent notions that a. the Church is so ridiculous that Mormons have to blindly ignore all the evidence, and b. faith is a stupid and invalid method of seeking truth. At no point did I say that the Church was proven true or that anyone who decides otherwise isn't thinking right. Yet you're telling me that because I disagree with you, I'm ignoring all the evidence and not thinking right, and you're attempting to psychoanalyze me despite the fact that we've never meant. If you insist on being so arrogant and closed-minded I see little value in continuing the discussion.

      If you must know, emotional need and confirmation bias had very little to do with my analysis of the evidence. I was in a rare period of emotional stability (induced, as it happens, by a spiritually supercharged week at EFY) when I encountered my first anti-Mormon website. I entered a state of cognitive dissonance, because what God was telling me seemed to be contradicted by demonstrable facts. I didn't know what to think but I felt betrayed and realized that the religion of my birth might not be true after all. To make a long story short I investigated each and every one of them and discovered that not only were most of them dishonestly presented to begin with, but they had all been addressed many times and the critics refused to acknowledge it.

      I already mentioned that in the article and linked to a list of websites that address said criticisms, so I see no reason why I'm obligated to waste my time doing it myself. (Incidentally, do you actually know anything about DNA science, or are you just repeating what critics have told you?) I'm not interested in arguing over whether the Church is true or false. But, I'll believe you that the evidence is against the Book of Mormon if you'll become the first to accept the Hugh Nibley challenge cited in the article ;)

      I'm truly sorry about your terrible experience. I'm not you and I don't know your circumstances so I won't attempt to invalidate them, just as you shouldn't attempt to invalidate mine. I stand by every word I said about my relationship with God and His intervention in my life, and by my conviction that faith is perfectly valid and reasonable in spiritual matters. Confirmation bias doesn't begin to explain it for me. In the past I often wanted to take my own life too – depression seems to be something the three of us have in common – and my understanding of God's feeling about suicide was what stopped me. I don't know why your experience was so different and so negative but I can only speak for my own. As I said, it's an individual matter. If you have a problem with that then we'll just have to agree to disagree.

    • marbegay profile image

      Miriam Frenzel 4 years ago from US

      I grew up in the LDS Church in Germany as an orthodox Mormon. Every word that came out of a church leaders mouth was my command. With 22 I went on a mission that I financed myself, got married (my husband is what you would call a "Lamanite") and sealed in a Mormon temple, etc. You could not find a more picture perfect Mormon.

      Now I am recovering from Mormonism and continuing my research on this organization. Finding out the truth has been the hardest thing in my life. I have never felt such betrayal before. I am still suffering from my membership in LDS church and the consequences of my resignation. When those who claim to love you call you of "the devil" and condition their love to their personal believes it only proofs everything I have ever found out about Mormonism to be true.

      I did not look for fault and when presented with evidence against the truth of the LDS Church I would push it aside and rely on faith and prayer. I lost my mother when I was a young adult and my religion promised me to be reunited with her someday. Maybe that is why I clung on to it so much.

      But when I had to make a choice between a living person I love and a religion I chose to open my heart and ears to the one I loved. That's why I commented on your post Wakerra. I know where you and your mother are coming from. I have been there on both sides. As long as you choose an organization over your loved one you will never know what would have been had you truly loved her and gotten priorities where they ought to be: with family. Choosing something or someone that you have no evidence even exists over someone you can touch and that wants you in their life is messed up. Evidence suggests that the Book of Mormon is fiction. Why then would I use its stories to guide my life. Evidence also suggests that the stories of all different gods are based on pageant believes. And though I have prayed a whole lot in my life I have never received a real answer (only conformation bias http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias) not even in my most desperate hour when I was ready to take my own life.

      You can choose and believe what you would like but presenting a believe or faith as intelligent act is just not right.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      Did you ask God if these researched facts were true? Did you sincerely pray to know if Lehi and his family are the true ancestors of the Native Americans despite what others may say? "What greater witness can you have than from God?"

    • marbegay profile image

      Miriam Frenzel 4 years ago from US

      Sure, but if you can't find any it is a problem.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      You also have to look at the other 12 tribes of Israel in the mix. Ishmael and his family are from Ephraim, Lehi is Manassah, and then you have the whole mass of people in Zarahelma (not exactly sure where their origins were again) Isaac and his 12 sons originated in Israel, then spread out. I doubt any one native american would have 100% jewish bloodline, because these three groups of people were so intermingled (especially if you count today)

      what it comes down it, is Faith is seeing, Seeing isn't believing. Laman and Lemuel both witnessed miracles daily, and even saw an Angel, yet they fell away. What were their reasons I must wonder? What evidences did they find to back justify their reasons? Is it blind Faith and nothing else? I don't think so. You start with Faith, and Faith ALWAYS brings miracles, big or small. Its why I still believe. Yes, I've heard a lot of things that may contradict what we believe, but I've always held on, and I've always found an answer. Not always was it immediately, heck, some of them take years, but they do come.

    • marbegay profile image

      Miriam Frenzel 4 years ago from US

      Regarding the Book of Mormon and DNA evidence. In the introduction of the BoM it states: "After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians." A DNA-based study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics link Native Americans to all Altaians (people living in the Siberian Altai Republic, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altay_people). According to recent research North and South America were first populated by three waves of migrants from Siberia. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/12/science/earliest... No Jewish DNA found in any of the inhabitants of North and South America. Well, either the ancestors of the BoM (Laminates) came from Jerusalem or they did not. Science proofs that an emigration from Jerusalem has never occurred. Now you can choose to belief the Mormon Churchs claim or Science but one can't claim to act on intelligence when siding with LDS teachings rather ones acting on "faith" alone.

    • alien236 profile image
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      Christopher Randall Nicholson 4 years ago from Logan, UT, USA, Earth, Sector ZZ Plural Z Alpha, Western Spiral Arm, Milky Way galaxy, the Universe

      Wakerra I'm so sorry about your family troubles and I hope things improve. Stay strong.

    • alien236 profile image
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      Christopher Randall Nicholson 4 years ago from Logan, UT, USA, Earth, Sector ZZ Plural Z Alpha, Western Spiral Arm, Milky Way galaxy, the Universe

      No offense marbegay, but you seem to exemplify exactly the attitude I mentioned in the article (although your tone was respectful and I appreciate that). You just assume that because I haven't reached the same conclusion as you about the Church, that I haven't opened my mind to truth and facts and that I don't take advantage of the information on the Internet. I have done plenty of research and seriously considered the possibility that the Church is false, but in the end I decided to stick with it. If you reached the opposite conclusion then that's fine but I won't just assume that you haven't done research.

      I know FAIR isn't sponsored by the Church but that doesn't invalidate it. I judge it on its own merits. And it certainly isn't perfect, but I think it does a good job. I'm not sure about the specific number who leave because of the Internet but I did link to a Reuters article about Elder Marlin K. Jensen discussing the problem. And by the way, that DNA thing only presents a problem if you assume that the Book of Mormon covers all of North and South America and that its peoples were the only ones who emigrated there. These were common assumptions in the Church for years but have been largely reevaluated and rejected by LDS scholars since at least the early eighties, long before the contrived DNA controversy.

      I'm glad your life outside the Church is meaningful. Mine wouldn't be. The Church provides the support, strength, and purpose that I need in my difficulties. But I wish you the best in life's journey as well.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      Listening is the one thing that keeps coming up that I need to work on. I've realized my weakness in this as I served in Minnesota for a time as well.

      The trouble with my Mom currently, however, is she twists your arm if you don't agree with her (whether intentionally or not) this really took a toll on my personal values/thought process, because all of a sudden I found myself having to agree with her on some level just to keep her from flaring drama at me, or accusing me of not being a loving daughter/understanding her etc. its kind of a complicated story, but if you are interested, I created a hub around some of what happened here: https://hubpages.com/health/My-Story-To-Hell-and-B...

    • marbegay profile image

      Miriam Frenzel 4 years ago from US

      Wakerra thanks for your words. I am just curious and you do not have to answer. Have you ever sat down with your mother and listened to her findings without trying to convince her that she is wrong? I used to get so offended by people that had a different belief or opinion that I wouldn't even listen to what they had to say. One day I realized that a person close to me tried to pour out his heart to me and I was brushing him off. It hurt when I realized what I had done since then I try to show my love to close ones by really listening no matter if I agree or disagree. If one truly loves someone he wants to understand what the other person is feeling. Good luck to you! Hope you and your mother can look in each others eyes without thinking that the other person is doomed because of their belief or non-belief.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      Marbegay: I think as you stated, one of the most important things in studying/educating ourselves, is working from the right sources. Just as "fair" isn't an official church website, there are many, many others that twist, pervert, and claim falsely. Just as you also stated, you can claim to be the master of the universe, doesn't mean its right.

      I've watched my own mother, who taught me the standards and beliefs I uphold to this day, turn around and deny everything to follow her heart because of "research" she did. Not only did she choose not to believe, but the actions that came from this have caused several problems, though that is an entirely different topic.

      Honestly, anybody can say anything, and have evidence to back it up. That's why debates often end unsettled, and just become a war of opinions. Who is to say what is right? God. How do we receive answers from him? "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong;"

      I've experienced this within my own life, but just studying and asking isn't enough, we have to be sincere, and open to the answers we receive, this requires humility. Many times I thought I knew what was best, and prayed for assurance, but I wasn't open to the possibility that I might be wrong; my prayers were hollow. I had to find out the hard way that I was mistaken, and it wasn't ever a fun pill to swallow

      I can honestly say, that I have studied out the possibilities, reviewed the facts, and even many times pondered a lot of the controversial claims against the church and its history. My answers did not come immediately, nor all at once. But they did come. Every day I continue to witness miracles, big or small, sometimes even insignificant, that continue to strengthen my faith and confirm my beliefs. Against all the noise and distraction the world holds against a person, look for that still, small whisper

    • marbegay profile image

      Miriam Frenzel 4 years ago from US

      Just for your personal information "Fair" is not an official LDS Church approved site.

      One thing you have not mentioned in your studies of "Church attendance increases with education" is the number of people leaving Mormonism because of education.

      I would love to see statistic on that!

      And yes Wakerra the Bible is as weird as the Book of Mormon and other Mormon claims. Makes we wonder if they both are true or fictional.

      Unfortunately in Mormonism members tend to defend their beliefs even if they have to be dishonest about things.

      Logically looking at DNA evidence of Native Americans and other scientifically proven wrong items of Mormonism such as the Book of Abraham you will find that people defending the LDS Church have only one thing left: their belief in it.

      But that is what many other religions have too and doesn't prove anything. I could believe that I am the master of the universe but that doesn't make it true. Opening your mind to truth and facts will change your life and will make your life so much more meaningful! Wishing you the best in your life's journey! Hope that one day your intelligent mind and logical research will reveal the truth to you. Thanks to the internet we have so much information available to us, take advantage of it. :)

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      speaking of weirdness, when I was in Minnesota on my mission, I'd often compare the Joseph Smith 1st vision with a combination of Moses and the Burning Bush, and Samuel the Boy Prophet. There are certainly wierder things in the Bible that people believe, but they can't see the First Vision as "logical"

    • alien236 profile image
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      Christopher Randall Nicholson 4 years ago from Logan, UT, USA, Earth, Sector ZZ Plural Z Alpha, Western Spiral Arm, Milky Way galaxy, the Universe

      Yes, Wakerra, very well said. If this was Facebook I would "like" your comment.

      Well I took that quote from Stephen Colbert. It's not meant to prove anything profound, just to illustrate a double standard that some people have about the "weirdness" of less common beliefs. So I agree that they're not quite analogous but I don't think one is weirder than the other.

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      Walter Little, Jr. 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Alien326, I realized your logic was faulted when you compared the plates (given to Joseph Smith) to the Commandments (given to Moses) -- they are two separate documents entirely.

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      Walter Little, Jr. 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Very well said Wakerra.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      I think a lot of the attacks on the LDS faith stem from human weakness in history. If there's one important thing I've learned, its no one, and certainly no religion is without its faults/weaknesses. One of the best talks that helped illustrate a very important principle was given by Elder Eyering in 2012 Spring Conference, titled "Converted to His gospel, through His church" or something like that.

      it went on to say, a person can be fully active and engaged in the LDS faith, and yet suddenly go completely in-active and deny it all. Why is this? because they were converted to the church, not the gospel. while these two are very closely related, they are NOT the same. A church is organized and run by people, people who are mortal, who sin, and who aren't perfect. However, the LDS faith is built upon a foundation of true, strong, and unmoving principles, set in stone by one who is immortal, sinless, and perfect.

      when looking into a religion/church/etc, you shouldn't analyze the people who run it, its history or fall throughs, rather than the principles its built off of