By Common Consent, a Mormon Blog
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The Mormon weblog By Common Consent (www.bycommonconsent.com) would like to make clear that it would never condone criminal acts undertaken against any person, group, church, or organization. Besides, this is a ridiculous hypothetical.
There are, of course, traditions that no adults actually believe but ones that they all pretend to believe. Not truly believing doesn’t really change things that much.
Very true Santa. But you’ve never told me what underwear to wear.
Ronan, I can’t really vote on this, since I can’t think of any unequivocal evidence to prove that Mormonism is not true. An ancient record of Laman disputing Nephi’s version? Nope; would bolster it. Discovery of plates showing radically different historiography? Inspired fiction model would come front and center.
Actually, perhaps the only thing that would do it would be an indisputable journal written by Joseph or Emma that “confessed” that it all was a scam. I think it’s safe to say that it won’t happen, but if it did, I’d have more money and time on Sunday – and probably preach a Buddhist version of Christianity. I wouldn’t do any of the choices in the poll.
I guess I will vote for the fourth option. At least it’s close.
What about Mormonism is not true in this scenario? I practice mormonism because it is the way of life that makes me happy. Why on earth would I change the way of life that makes me happy? Unless of course you’re saying I discover that this way of life isn’t “truly” making me happy, which is sort of subjective, don’t ya think.
I mean, it’s not like I’m just gagging to go drink coffee, or a beer, or smash mailboxes, or even sleep more one day a week. (been there and done all that, not interestested.) Why would I change any of these things?
Unless of course you’re saying I discover that this way of life isn’t “truly” making me happy, which is sort of subjective, don’t ya think.”
I’m not sure the “subjective” measure of personal happiness is enough to disregard it as evidence, Matt. Even Joseph Smith said that happiness is “the object and design of our existence.” While there are certainly individual unpleasant experiences which serve as opportunities for growth, it’s tough to imagine a benign deity who would expect individuals to center their lives around something that did not bring them happiness, or worse yet, brought them unhappiness.
But haven’t you all ever thought about what it would be like to completely revamp your moral system? My brother left the church completely, he’s not anti, but he doesn’t believe in Heavenly Father or the Holy Ghost. Mormonism provides such a framework for our lives – if you don’t believe that the gospel is true, how many things go along with that? Personally, I would never drink or smoke or drink coffee or tea b/c I think they’re unhealthy. Same for lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, etc. But, I’d have to say that I’d probably wear my shorts a little shorter and I’d wear tank tops in the summer.
Nick: not sure what you’re getting at. I think you just restated my thesis as if you were cordially contradicting me.
I think the poll answers are problematic, even for a so-called “ridiculous hypothetical.” For those who have devoted their lives to Mormonism, only to come to a later conclusion that it isn’t true (notice I’m not saying “unequivocal evidence,” since such in matters of faith, all contrary evidence often becomes “equivocal”), there is a serious sense of hurt, disappointment, and betrayal. For many, this results in much more than a mere shrug of the shoulders, but it certainly doesn’t mean former believer seeks consolation in rampant Word of Wisdom violations, let alone violent criminal acts.
Sorry, Matt. I thought you were saying that personal happiness was not a valid consideration in the “truthfulness” of a religious system or way of life.
Fwiw, I’ve thought for a long time that the truest measure of how well someone who leaves the Church understands the Gospel is how they live their own lives and interact with the Church and its members afterward. Nick and MikeinWeHo are good examples (at least Nick usually is – grin) of those who seem to have gotten it and remain positive in their chosen path; others, not so much. I know this is subjective, so it might be off base as to the actual people, but I view someone like Ulrich and compare her to the Tanners (and to a much smaller degree Toscano) – and I see a clear difference in how the Gospel seems to have been embedded in and inform their hearts after they were excommunicated from the Church. (I use them, since excommunication tends to magnify the reactions of those who choose to leave on their own.)
I know it’s bad for me, and would likely ruin my life, but I’m running back to the booze the day that the Twelve hold a press conference and say, “Sorry guys, we were kidding! And we’ve been kidding for 150 years!”
But seriously–if the question is whether we’re okay with an “inspired fiction” model (#4), heck, some of us are already there.
I was once having discussion with a coworker and he said something about “Mormons”. Silence followed and then he looked around the office and said “someone is Mormon here, aren’t they?”
He then said “hey if your going to believe in a made up religion, I guess that’s as good as any other”.
This is a fascinating poll. It goes directly to this question: What WOULD constitute unequivocal evidence that mormonism is not true?
re: 12 I was fortunate to leave active Church life before I got married and had kids. It was like ripping off a bandaid fast, and there weren’t any big social consequences (on the contrary, in fact). This gave me the distance and freedom to become a lifelong student of the Restoration, and surprisingly, a friend of the Church with a vestigial Mormon identity. Except for loss of my eternal soul (grin) it all worked out fine. I can imagine that someone who went through what Nick did would have a very hard time not going all DAMU, which is why I don’t go all Steve Evans on him when he makes offensive comments (like calling this faith “LDS-ism” in a cyber-room full of Mormons– that always rubs me the wrong way).
But haven’t you all ever thought about what it would be like to completely revamp your moral system?
That’s sort of what I did when I joined the church.
re: 15 I once had a conversation with an opponent of the Church who was picketing the Christmas lights at the Arizona Temple. We had a discussion on the topic of what unequivocal evidence would cause him leave Christianity. His response: If they ever find the body [of Christ]. The man belonged to a group called “Concerned Christians.” :-)
Much depends on how the “not true” manifests itself.
If we die and there’s nothing, well, there won’t be much time to have any reaction.
If we die and somehow Mormonism is the “wrong” religion then either we will be judged for the goodness of our lives (yay), or we will all hang out in hell and play Guitar Hero with Satan and Joseph Smith (also yay).
If Ray’s letter surfaced, many people would deny its authenticity anyway.
The only reason to go on an angry rampage would be if we actually hate Mormonism and only play along because we hope we will one day be rewarded.
Ronan, you know that I love you, but this poll is not constructive. It feels like something that might appear in the more unseemly areas of the internet.
What? It’s pornographic…?!
My take is that I’ve always been totally brainwashed, so about the only thing I would change is to get my SP to push back HC meeting on Sundays from 6 AM to a more reasonable time. That way, I could combine # 4 and # 5.
I voted for committing acts of crime! Man, I donated two years of my life, and so much time repenting and feeling anguish for my sins that I’d be stinkin’ bitter.
Of course, that will never happen, but it’s fun to think about.
In a hypothetical, of course. I don’t really think it be fun to go the Unabomber route with the church.
Yikes. Why do I think the Feds are looking into my bank account now.
Even if “Mormonism” is untrue, my relationship with Heavenly Father really doesn’t change. I know that is a cheesy answer, but I think I would tell myself (rationalization, perhaps?) that there was a reason I was supposed to be a part of the church, even if it wasn’t true. Because even if I find out Mormonism is false, I still can’t take back the Spirit that I have felt.
But seriously, J. (#19), the poll hopes we’ll come to a realisation: it’s only if Mormonism is not a force for great good in our lives that its hypothetical “untruth” would be devastating. Matt W. seems to have worked this out.
The WoW violations are metaphorical, I think. There’s the “Starbucks” lapsed Mormon (MikeInWeHo), there’s the “Jack Daniels” lapsed Mormon (the lighter side of the DAMU), and there’s the angry, letter-box smashing ex-Mo (you know the type). I’d like to think that if Mormonism has been good to us we would stop at the “coffee.”
Actually, it would be kind of a relief. I could go back to embracing existentialism and repeat my old mantra:
“Maker’s, rocks. Guinness chaser.”
“someone like Ulrich”
Ray, I hope you’re not talking about Laurel Ulrich, who is and always has been a member in good standing. At the moment, she’s our Stake Public Affairs Director (and a darn good one!)
Melissa, # 23,
TO be serious for a moment, I think I’m pretty much where you are. Not sure what kind of “unequivocal” evidence it would take to change what I have experienced or know via spiritual experience.
You have to realize that in a worldly view, there is no “unequivocal” evidence out there that proves it is true, so it all comes down to subjective measures of the type that Melissa, Matt W, and others have expressed.
I guess I’m still showing up early on Sundays, and then napping during Sacrament Meeting. :)
I would push harder for guitar hero to permitted at stake dances.
Nothing like seeing a bunch of LDS kids screaming “shout shout shout at the devil” while the sp looks on. Would be really fun. But alas went down in flames. I did get Wii approved though
I agree with David in 26: I’d be kind of relieved. I probably still wouldn’t drink alcohol or coffee (since my family has a history of alcoholism and coffee tastes awful) but it sure would relieve me of a lot of responsibility.
Also it would mean anything I’ve accomplished really is my own doing, so that’d be nice.
Also, I have to say I really hate the “it makes me happy so it doesn’t matter” approach. I guess it’s fine if that works for some people, but I’d rather be miserable and follow the truth than happy and lying to myself.
I hate coffe, and had enough Patron pre-church days to last a lifetime- so that holds no appeal for me.
For me it would be the crisis of not having God- again. That would crush me- as it is, my hold is tenuous some days, but at least I have, in some manner, what I’ve yearned for all my life. If that were taken from me, I would be devastated.
A 10% raise and an extra day off every week! ;)
I just have to say, I’m amazed by all the people who don’t like coffee. Coffee’s one of God’s greatest creations, even though I’ve given it up for the faith…
I dare you (double-dog dare you) to try to come up with a guess of what kind of unequivocal evidence could prove to me that my belief is untrue. When you can come up with a convincing example, I’ll think about answering your question.
At least you don’t have to abandon Starbucks entirely, J. Nelson-Seawright. I hate coffee, but I love a lot of their other drinks. Of course, here in Seattle, you can literally stand in one spot and see two different Starbucks locations. It’s worse than LDS chapels in Utah! ;-)
Jesus comes down from heaven and unleashes firebolts from his eyes onto the Salt Lake temple.
RonanJH – That sounds like Barbara Streisand in that South Park episode!
I dare you (double-dog dare you) to try to come up with a guess of what kind of unequivocal evidence could prove to me that my belief is untrue.
That’s the thing about faith. No amount of empirical evidence is enough to “unequivocably” prove a faith-based belief true or false. One’s belief or disbelief, in itself, dramatically influences one’s perception and interpretation of the evidence. IMO, Ronan’s question would be better phrased if he simply asked what our reaction would be if we came to the conclusion that Mormonism was false, rather than referring to so-called “unequivocal proof.” A few might still play the game of “I’d NEVER find enough evidence to convince me it’s not true, so the question is bad,” but at least the exercise would be more realistic.
J. Nelson-Seawright (#33),
I’m with you on the coffee thing. Cafe Americano Espresso with four shots on ice. Honestly, the WoW is the one aspect of LDS-dom that I wouldn’t mind they back off on. I also gave it all up for the faith, but I haven’t lost the taste for it– coffee, bourbon. Some would say if I were truly converted they’d no longer hold appeal for me. I prefer to think because they still appeal to me, and I stalwartly refrain from them, that makes my faith greater.
If that happened, I guarantee you that some would maintain their faith in the LDS church, and simply interpret the event as a sign that they had not been righteous enough.
There was an influential book in the 60s or early 70s. IIRC, the title was When Prophecy Fails. The author, a sociologist, infiltrated a UFO cult to observe the phenomenon of belief. The cult leaders promised that spaceships were coming to carry the believers off to paradise at a particular place and time. When that didn’t happen, the leaders first told believers that they hadn’t been “pure” enough, and needed to remove any and all metals from their persons before a newly-appointed place and time. When the aliens still didn’t come, many believers simply found a way to adjust their belief to the evidence, concluding that they had failed to sufficiently prove themselves to the aliens, and the whole “rescue from Earth” thing was put off to some indefinite future time, when the believers would finally be “ready” for it.
#36: Ronan, And if it were William Wallace shooting the fireballs/bolts of lightning at the SLCT, they would definitely becoming from somewhere other than the eyes. :-)
I’d like to think wouldn’t change anything. My life is good and I am happy with the person I have become because of the gospel, BUT it would be a load off to not have the nagging feeling that maybe I am damned for going to see rated R movies or any other little thing that I secretly disagree with. Unfortunately(or fortunately depending on where you are sitting)so much of our lifestyle is based on the truth being true (missionary work, the sacrement, temple work..) without that glue we’re pretty much just a bunch of nice people who do weird things. I don’t have alot in common with most of the people in my ward, so knowing my self the way I do, without the glue I probably wouldn’t stick around. -I also doubt if I would become a coffee drinking drunken criminal either.
I beg to differ. I think if the event described in #36 happened, the majority of those that kept believing would simply insist that whoever that was, it wasn’t Jesus. :-)
42 – I would have said that I wouldn’t feel so bad about watching rated R movies, except that I don’t feel so bad when I do. :)
41 & 43 – Awesome!
Would proof that “Mormonism” isn’t true automatically include proof that God wasn’t real or true for you? Just curious, because for many people it is their relationship with God that led them to the LDS Church (and keeps them here)-IOW-it matches up with their understanding of God the Father and Christ more than anything else. For these people, if the impossible proof ever showed up, I think many of them would continue to live the same way and believe in God in the same manner “outside” of any declared religious organization.
The happiness I get from the Gospel isn’t from its teachings themselves, it’s from living them. It’s from the service I render, it’s from changing myself into a less-judgemental person, becoming more forgiving, more loving. Those are the things that bring me happiness, and because I learned those things from the Gospel I don’t think they could ever be proved to be not true. Perhaps JS could be proven as a phony, but he taught principles that when lived, have changed me into a better person. He was the medium, not the message.
Of course you can say that those things are taught elsewhere but the Mormon medium works much better than any other (for me).
Nick #35, I see your Starbucks and raise you a Peet’s.
David #39, interesting theological issues. Is it better to withstand serious temptation and keep faith, or to simply stand apart from temptation altogether? Arguments can be, and indeed have been, made for both positions.
I like to think that the Word of Wisdom is a feature of this life only. After all, in God’s Kingdom, few if any “evils and designs” will be found “in the hearts of conspiring men,” and we’ll be able to enjoy blessings such as coffee and Baileys Irish Cream.
You big silly-explain to me how THAT would be “hell”??????
Wouldn’t hell be more like spending eternity with an accordion player while playing Pictionary with John Madden and Martha Stewart?
I had a conversation with my wife a bit ago about the efficacy of doing research for groups like FARMS. If someone finds some evidence that supports the BofM then we go “yah!” and critics chalk it up in various ways. If critics come up with something that we can’t understand, then those who have testimonies based upon faith and spiritual witness (i.e., not logic), then they might not be able to explain it, but they ignore it for the time being. People adjust. Faith endures. Neither critics nor believers alike are hardly ever convinced by “proof” that doesn’t already go along with their beliefs. The Spirit only converts.
I think my reaction would depend on how widely the unequivocal proof is recognized and accepted. The example along these lines I’ve used in the past is, suppose that a faithful LDS archaeologist discovers during an archaeological dig in NY–in situ–a faked set of tin plates, and somehow is able to tie them to JS (for the sake of argument, let’s say Joseph’s DNA is all over them).
My guess is that the Church would continue to exist and people would simply adjust to a pious fraud theory. There are plenty of active Mormons who already accept such a theory. That is probably what I would do.
But the Church has made public statements in the past that if the founding events are a fraud, the whole Church is a fraud. So let’s say they stick to their guns and close up shop, escheat all their property to the local governments where it is located, and publicly acknowledge it was all a deception. In that case I don’t think I would be angry; more bemused by the whole thing. I wouldn’t start drinking or smoking or doing drugs or having affairs or anything like that, and I already go to R-rated movies with a clean conscience, so I don’t see it as having a big effect on the activities of my day-to-day life. Even if it were widely concluded all to have been a fraud and a deception, I think I would still acknowledge the positive benefits living that lifestyle had for me personally.
It would be nice not to have to pay tithing anymore, though.
Actually, perhaps the only thing that would do it would be an indisputable journal written by Joseph or Emma that “confessed” that it all was a scam.
But see even that wouldn’t do it, because I know it is true because God answered my prayer through the Holy Spirit. The only way Mormonism could be disproved to me is if God Himself said so.
When I first read the hypothetical, I could only think of one way of receiving “proof,” and that were if God and Jesus Christ came down to earth in a blaze of glory and pierced the hearts and minds to all the earth saying, “there is no one true way. All paths lead to us. The LDS church is good, but do what you want. It doesn’t matter.”
OK, with this scenario, all I can think that I would do is basically give up going to church on Sunday. I’d still want my kids to be taught morals and ethic, but I just might be more secular and ecumenical about it. Basically, I’d be a well meaning but lazy jane. Kind of like I am now.
And I’d wear sleeveless tops.
Kevin Barney, in case you missed it on that other blog, Bishop Wyatt (FAIR) says, “Hello.” (He attended a small branch in our stake on Sunday to particiapte in the blessing of a grand-daughter.)
I so have to admit that my ties would get burend pretty quickly. I’m so used to the garments that I’d probably wear them anyway.
What about embarrassment? We haven’t talked about it, but I would be awfully embarrassed if it turns out all the anti-members of my family were right all along. But I would like to think that if there was some proof (God comes and tells the world the LDS church is false), then surely he would mention the other false churches as well.
If I am going down, I am taking Mike Huckabee with me…
#27 – Thanks, Kristine. I meant to type Anderson; can’t believe I typed Ulrich. BIG difference.
people, people people. It’s not about whether you like coffee or not. It’s the fact that you CAN.
36 — Thanks for playing. Here’s your Rice-a-roni and a copy of our home game.
38 — Nick, thanks for getting my point. I like your question better, because it gets the tough part out of the way.
51 — Exactly.
And then there’s the difficulty of determining exactly what parts of Mormonism are wrong? Is it just what the Baptists say is wrong, or the Catholics, or the Muslims, or the agnostics, or the atheists?
I don’t like these future contrafactual hypotheticals. My only real answer is “I’ll figure that out when I get there.”
It’s great that some of you have said nothing would change because the Holy Ghost has told you it’s true, but people just like you have change their minds all the time.
I can honestly answer the poll because there are parts of my religion that I don’t think are true. I don’t believe God wanted to keep the priesthood from people of African descent until 1978. I don’t believe Joseph Smith was supposed to have all those wives. I don’t believe the Book of Mormon is a record of ancient people (though I do believe it’s scripture inspired by God).
I don’t feel like these things are true, but nothing about my life has really changed. I still feel the spirit, I still attend church, I still perform my calling. the results are there for me, I know how good it is for myself and my family. That’s the proof I need.
A hundred years ago Gentile farmers in Utah went to the Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution to pick up that “Mormon underwear” ’cause it was more comfortable than the other underwear.
I could take Madden and Stewart in Pictionary.
Do you get sense that some GAs are moving away from the “either it happened or it’s the biggest fraud ever” black-or-white rhetoric, Kevin? I thought I heard a hint of that in Elder Holland’s recent PBS interview when he said:
“…we have many people who are members of the church who do not have some burning conviction as to its origins, who have some other feeling about it that is not as committed to foundational statements and the premises of Mormonism. But we’re not going to invite somebody out of the church over that…”
Does anyone see that statement as the door opening a crack to alternate views?
How open at church are you about your areas of non-belief, jjohnsen? I think that in a generation your views will be standard LDS positions. What an interesting day it will be in the bloggernacle the first time some GA at conference endorses the option of viewing the BoM as inspired fiction. Seems to me that Elder Holland already has.
55. “If I am going down, I am taking Mike Huckabee with me…”
That made my day, Melissa
I’m of the same mind as jjohnsen here. Despite significant questions about certain truth claims, the church works for me and, at the end of the day, that’s enough.
I’d add that while Elder Holland’s comments were a breath of fresh air, I think he is a fair distance away from actually “endorsing” the BoM as inspired fiction option. My reading here is that people with those sorts of views are welcomed in the church, even though their beliefs differ somewhat from the official view.
The big question, it seems to me, is the extent to which they are welcomed. It’s one thing to say you are free to come to sacrament meeting — precious few are denied that. But can you hold a temple recommend, or be a bishop, or a gospel doctrine teacher, etc., etc.?
In the end, being so antagonistic about the church is (or should be) more embarrassing than someone trying to live their faith faithfully. Hopefully (in this hypothetical) you came out the other end of the Mormon experience not putting people down about their beliefs, while your family members haven’t grown out of it yet. Being able to say “I was right all along” doesn’t make someone a better person, it just makes them right. In other words, at least by being a Mormon you learned how to not be a jerk.
(Melissa, I just re-read what I wrote and it looks like I’m calling your family members jerks, which I’m not. I’m just saying that it seems those who tend to demand they are right about our wrongness are often jerks about it.)
How open at church are you about your areas of non-belief, jjohnsen? I think that in a generation your views will be standard LDS positions. What an interesting day it will be in the bloggernacle the first time some GA at conference endorses the option of viewing the BoM as inspired fiction. Seems to me that Elder Holland already has.
I teach thirteen-year-olds Sunday School right now, and I’m not at all open about it. For one I enjoy having callings, and I’m pretty sure I’d lose it if people heard me say “I know the church is true, but I’m a little iffy on what Brigham Young did to black men concerning the priesthood”. Also, I understand that age is very impressionable, I’d hate for one of them to decide they hate the church because Brother jjohnsen said the BOM might only be inspired scripture.
I stick to straight doctrine, they can decide for themselves how far they want to look into history.
I can say occasionally I’ve been more open in the Sunday school and priesthood meetings I’ve attended. Usually when I say something like the priesthood ban troubles me, it’s blown off and the instructor moves on. Which doesn’t surprise me at all.
Like many others, I question what would constitute unequivocal evidence that the gospel was not true. However, if I were to come to the conclusion that the gospel was not true or right for me, I’m pretty sure that my life would change a bit. Mainly just the WoW stuff. Not that I would start smoking or anything. And I hate the taste of wine. But I probably would drink coffee, though not habitually. And drink beer, and maybe even smoke weed once in a while. Oooh, shocker!
My relationship with Heavenly Father is pretty my inseparable from my belief in the gospel, so if I believed for whatever reason that the gospel wasn’t true, my relationship with deity would probably also be compromised.
No, not such a big difference. Both are outstanding women, outstanding Christians; both are doing excellent work in service of the Mormon community. Many esteemed Mormon books, the Journal of Mormon History and Dialogue can thank Lavina for her objective, fair and superb editing. Few know the details of her court and could be in a position to hold her up as an example for bad. I just note with gratitude that the Church handles sex abuse cases differently now than it did when Lavina was publicizing apparent insensitivity to victims.
Can a member good standing smoke cannabis if it’s legal in their location and prescribed by a doctor for a medical condition? (OK…it’s a tangent..just wondering)
#55 “If I am going down, I am taking Mike Huckabee with me…”
Best comment ever!
I asked the same question a while ago, Mike, on a thread that was a little before your time.
Maybe I’d become a wine with dinner type person, but, never having tried wine, who knows if I’ll actually like it. For certain, I’d feel less guilty about having a career instead of being a SAHM, among other things. Funny that my actions wouldn’t change so much as just not feeling guilty about them.
OTOH, would I really feel less guilty? I’m probably so conditioned that even if I 100% stopped believing in the church, I’d still be sweating every time I bring a bottle of wine to the checkout.
I do very much feel that I’m at a point where I could leave the church peacefully (if I decided it wasn’t true). I like myself and can see many ways that the church has contributed to the resulting me in a positive way. I like (most of) the people I’ve known through the church. If I go apostate, I’ll be one of those who still corrects people when they state misinformation about the church and tells anti-LDS bigots on blogs to shut up, etc.
Well, I don’t believe the Church anymore and my behavior hasn’t really changed that much. At first there was the desire to do all the things that I ‘couldn’t’ do as a TBM but ultimately I came to see a lot of those things would either be unhealthy, effect my relationships, or just waste precious time. I admit the one thing I would like to stop doing, attending Church, has continued because of family pressure, but otherwise things haven’t changed that much. While I miss some of the ‘spiritual’ aspects of being a believer it is nice to not constantly being concerned about perfection like I used to as a believer and to not worry about studying things I used to be afraid of like evolution or Mormon history.
#74 – I’m curious about your comment about missing the spiritual aspects of being a believer. Now that you no longer believe, to what do you attribute the spiritual things that you once felt? Like do you think you convinced yourself that you felt those things or what?
#69 and everyone else – PLEASE, re-read my actual comment. It was praising Anderson for the way that she handled the excommunication. It was NOT a criticism in any way. I contrasted how she handled it to the way that the Tanners and Toscano handled it. This is why I parse, parse, parse.
(*Taking a deep, deep breath and exhaling*)
For me one of the things that got me interested in the church is not the ‘truth’ value (golden plates arn’t what most likely story) but what it inspires and encourages people to do. Live healthy lives, be educated, be honest and descent people. As long as some people with those values are meeting on sunday i’ll join them.
Stephanie(#75). It would be very hard to answer your questions fully in a reasonably short post. I will say that now I recognize many of the feelings I associated as ‘the Spirit’ were other feelings, such as a feeling of nostalgia for my LDS upbringing while I suspect many of the others were simply intense self produced emotions/insights. Some of these are probably difficult to produce for the same reason (in my opinion) a magic show fails to evoke the same level of excitement once you know how all the tricks work. (I’m not trying to make any insulting jab using that parallel-just saying that in my opinion our perspective effects the ability for our minds to produce certain emotions). Maybe on the other hand I simply ‘lost the Spirit’ through poor choices-I doubt it but I try to approach things with an open mind-something that I personally at least was unwilling to do when I believed.
This really isn’t all that hypothetical. Half the people who read this blog have already reached the point where they believe evidence proves mormonism is “not true.”
#72, interesting thread, thanks for the link, I enjoyed reading peoples thoughts on the issue of medical marijuana.
Just thought I would mention that the 9th circuit court decision referred to has been overturned by the US Supreme court. At this time it is against federal law in all 50 states to use marijuana, even if medically prescribed. Hence the “Are you honest” question would hold back medical marijuana users from receiving temple recommends.
However you could do like William F. Buckley did and meet a ship out past our territorial waters, and receive the marijuana in international waters and smoke it there. Than some poor bishop would have to admit you hadn’t broken the law and could answer positively that you were honest, and would have to make a decision about whether the marijuana itself should keep you out of the temple.
I voted “drown my sense of betrayal at the pub.” Unlike most of y’all I have experienced this. No unequivocal evidence, of course, but enough to make me lose my faith. The pub metaphor worked really well for what I felt: despair.
This happens to people every single day. Not a lot of them, but enough that I know about a few. New people turn up on the New Order Mormons board almost daily; people the FARMSers assumes are illiterate (“don’t these people READ?”) and that the faithful assume just want to sin. They’re in despair. As deeply as they were convinced that the church was true, they are now convinced that it was all a lie. It’s like losing a loved one. It’s devastating. (God, I get teary just thinking about it.)
Whatever faith I’ve been able to recover, it is not the same. The pub metaphor extends here, too: one day at a time. Today, I will not drink. Today, I will act as if I believe.
Half the people who read this blog have already reached the point where they believe evidence proves mormonism is “not true.”
Really? I doubt that. Any permabloggers want to do some stat analysis? Maybe a poll of sorts, including a question about how often the people taking it read and comment?
#79 – Over-the-top rhetoric is hard to take seriously.
I knew there were those who attended on a regular basis that go through the motions– either due to family pressure or in the hopes that faith will return– and there are those who have surrendered to the idea that the Church just isn’t true. I guess I’m mildly surprised by how many gravitated to this small sample set.
A friend of mine acted as if he had faith when he was the EQP and I was a counselor. In private he would muse over the possibility that it was all man-made, and sigh, and then add that all we can do is our best, and hope we’re on the right track. Today he’s a bishop. I’m not sure if there’s a universal lesson there, but I do know somewhere along the way he calmed his waters and crystalized his faith. I also suspect his momentary lapses of doubt ultimately made him stronger, don’t ask me why.
#70 MikeInWeHo- It would be my guess that if a doctor prescribed it, it would all good. If anyone in my family were to have medical need, it would be foolish and rediculous not to use it. Absurd.
Many of our western pharmcalogical drugs have origins plants anyway, and have been compounded and synthesized. If smoking some green is going to help someone stop throwing up from chemo, get out of the way.
I second #81. A real faith crisis feels like half of you died, and you can’t resurrect yourself just by wanting it all to be like it was before the crisis. Lots of despair, anger and feelings of betrayal.
Then maybe you can get all philosophical and decide it was a good way of life after all.
Mike- paragraph two comes across a wee bit hostile- and it’s not at all directed at you! I just have some heated opinions, occasionally.
I’ve had my own doubts or times in my life when my faith wasn’t strong etc…but I can always trace the reason back to myself. Every time. I have felt despair, anger and feelings of betrayal, but their source has never really been the Church as an organization, or the gospel as doctrine, or God.
So I’m trying to understand what happens to those who experience a crisis of faith and decide that someone or something else (like the Church itself) is to blame-so leaving is the appropriate action to take.
If those who were once convinced it was true now think they were mistaken, what makes them so sure that they aren’t just as mistaken about the “new” conviction that it is NOT true?
Tosh, that last comment is why it’s hard sometimes to credit the really insightful things you add in other comments. Crises of faith are NOT always or even primarily the “fault” of the one experiencing the crisis.
It’s kind of impossible to imagine something that proves that Mormonism isn’t true, because it WORKS.
It’s as though you could prove to me that my car wasn’t really a car. It just wouldn’t matter, because it still gets me back and forth to work.
If something from Joseph Smith were to come to us that showed unequivocally that he believed it all to be a hoax, I would think isn’t it weird how God can use someone’s lies to teach people the truth.
If Jesus came and shot fire from his eyes at the temple, I would think someone was doing something wrong in God’s church and it made him mad. In other words, that would be evidence that it really is his church since he cares so much about it.
What would you do if you suddenly were to be given incontrovertible proof that gravity wasn’t true?
Ray, I’m glad at least one of us has found tosh’s other comments insightful.
Ray (#76)–you missed Molly’s point, too. Being excommunicated does not, all by itself, constitute a BIG difference. Lavina has continued to contribute to the church in important ways despite being excommunicated; Laurel has been regarded with suspicion and hostility in some quarters despite her membership status and many contributions. Both of them are magnificent and worthy of our admiration.
Did anyone see the South Park about Mormonism? A Mormon kid moves into the neighborhood and tells them about the Joseph Smith story. Of course they all think it’s ludicrous – but by the end yhe conclusion they come to at the end is exactly what many of you have voiced here: that the wacky origins of the faith don’t matter because the lives of the members are influenced positively by living a certain way. If studying the Book of Mormon makes you a better person, who cares if it’s “true” or not?
I love this site. It might be renamed “Testimony Roulette”.
I like (and largely agree with) the answer of Professor Flake to a similar question, as posted in her pbs interview:
Q. “Is there anything you could find out about the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith that could change your faith?”
A. “My faith is in God, not in the Mormon Church. My faith is in the God that the Mormon Church has introduced to me, both by experience and by all these other things that I’ve talked to you about: ordinances, texts, experience. There is a phrase in the Book of Mormon, when it talks about the progress toward faith, and you’re at the end of that progress, and he says, ‘Oh, is this not real? ‘ — not ‘Oh, is this not true?,’ but ‘Is this not real?’ There is a sense of reality here that I suppose does manifest itself as an inoculation against some of these issues. It sounds a tautology in a way. But yes, if God told me to get out of here, I’d be out of here in a second.”
Maybe on the other hand I simply ‘lost the Spirit’ through poor choices-I doubt it but I try to approach things with an open mind-something that I personally at least was unwilling to do when I believed.
If you did not make poor choices-you didn’t. But you volunteered that “maybe” you lost the spirit because you did make poor choices. Doesn’t the loss of the spirit or one’s spirituality after making poor choices actually PROVE at least that part of the gospel is true? Wouldn’t someone with a truly open mind be willing to “experiment upon the word”- you know, genuinely repent and change to see if the Spirit returned?
Why did you choose to be closed minded when you believed? Why did you let fear (something not of God anyway) keep you from studying evolution or Mormon history when you believed? Where is it written that believers should act in either of those ways?
If believing is a choice-then so is unbelief. If being faithful is a choice, so is being unfaithful. The “truth” isn’t affected by how much we believe or doubt it…that’s what makes it truth. It exists completely on its own-with or without our faith, whether we want it to or not. And if it IS true then there isn’t anywhere you can go that is far enough away to avoid the consequences forever.
I don’t say this to judge you-I say this because it is my duty to care enough about you to warn you. I choose to say these things to you because I made a promise that I would, and I am not ashamed to fulfill that promise.
There is not one doctrine in the gospel of Jesus Christ that won’t make us better people, healthier human beings, more like our Savior, and bring us closer to our Father in Heaven. Period. The endless and incorrect interpretations/opinions/judgments/philosophies/lies about those doctrines cannot do ANY of those things-and yet some people choose to hand over those blessings in exchange for whatever self-centered hunger they prefer to satiate be it power, the respect of their peers,the admiration of the world,credibility among their friends,the pleasures of the flesh, fame, etc.
Every justification for leaving I have ever heard has the same main foundation-that the Church is not true. Why? Is THAT the only excuse deemed valid enough if one wants to leave with one’s dignity and self respect intact? Why don’t we ever hear “The Church is true, I just don’t want to be true to the Church”? Doesn’t anyone have the integrity to say “The Church is true but it requires more than I am willing to give” or “I don’t really want to repent so why pretend I do?”
I came to the conclusion a few years back that any belief system is only as good as the type of lives it helps those who adhere to it live. Mormonism has helped me and about 8 generations of my family live pretty good lives. There have been no divorces, illegitimate children, significant substance abuse, or incarcerations (except for my great, great grandfather who was locked up at Sugar House for “cohabitation”) on either side of my family since they joined the church in the mid 1800s. Although I hate to say that the truthfulness of the church is irrelevant, I guess in a pragmatic sense it kind of is. I think that if they found a Joseph Smith journal (that was shown not to be a Hoffman forgery) in which he admitted to making the whole thing up, I’d probably say, “Oh, that sucks,” and then go right back to preparing my Sunday School lesson.
I’m sorry to hear that when you disagree with me that it invalidates everything else I ever said that you did agree with. I am greatly blessed then that neither you (nor Ann) are the source from which I seek credibility, am I not?
If faith is individual-an act of agency-who else can be responsible for the strength or lack of my faith? If I agree with David’s quote- that GOD is the source of my faith, how to you plan to convince me that God might circumvent my agency and add upon or take from my faith? Who or what else has the power to give or take something from my soul without permission?
If the source of my faith is man, then it will fail because man fails. If the source of my faith is in my own opinions or intellectual musings, then it will fail because my own opinions and musings are fallible. If the source of my faith is anything corruptible-then my faith is always subject to corruption. We CHOOSE where we plant our faith, we CHOOSE how we feed it and how we nurture it-and if we feed it the wrong things or plant it in the wrong soil is the lack of harvest the seed’s fault?
God gives us endless chances, endless seeds, if we want them. He offers to walk beside us and teach us to be master faith growers. If we throw down the gloves and storm out of the field because our first crop struggles or dies then we should be careful about blaming our future starvation on anyone else-in particular Him.
I think it takes a pretty self-interested viewpoint to rationalize Holland’s remarks as giving tacit approval to the inspired fiction argument.
The simple fact is we don’t know enough about ancient American history to cleam with certainty anything. And anything an archeologist or historian says about what happened 2000 years ago in America is interpreted though a Western Civilization viewpoint. There are plenty of people who claim the Jews were never in bondage in Egypt. How could you actually move that many people?
I do think it’s likely ancient prophets in the BoM and in the OT and NT were prone to exaggeration. It seems like most ancient records were. Reading Greek historians accounts of their battles the numbers seem just as far fetched as those mentioned in the BoM. It just means perhaps they weren’t the best accountants….of course it could all be true. I wasn’t there and neither were you.
Anyway, back to the point, Elder Hollands suggestion implies that we are all at differing levels of our testimony. You won’t be kicked out of the church because you’re not sure of certain things. That’s ridiculous. You’re not excommunicated simply for wondering, having doubts or questions. Now if you actively start trying to tear down other’s testimonies with your questions that’s another story…
I think Joseph Smith may be a fake. Here is why!
In the History of the Morman Church, Vol. 1, Chapter 1: 14-20, Joseph Smith accounts the beginning of his prophetic ministry through the appearance of the Father and the Son.
“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I bsaw two Personages, One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
Again in the DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS sECTION 110 – Visions manifested to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery in the temple at Kirtland, Ohio, April 3, 1836.
“We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: I am the afirst and the last; I am he who bliveth, I am he who was slain; I am your cadvocate with the Father. Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice.
In both acccounts,Why wasn’t Joseph Smith trembling in fear when he saw the “brightness and glory defy all description” or when he heard God the Father announce “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”?
I ask because of the following accounts in Holy Scripture. In each account whenever an angel, or the glorified Christ appeared to the faithful, or the voice of God the Father was heard, there was an immediate physical reaction of fear shown by those who had seen or heard.
Revelation 1- I fell at his feet as dead
Acts 26 – And when we were all fallen to the earth
Matthew 17 – they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.
Matthew28 – The guards shook and became like deadmen!
Luke 2 – they were greatly afraid.
Judges 13 – fell on their faces to the ground.
John 18 – they went backward, and fell to the ground
Luke 1 – he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
Luke 1 – Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
Acts 22 -And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid
I know myself and all other people would be trembling in fear when seeing or hearing God speak. Joseph describes the accounts as though he is watching a Saturday afternoon baseball game.
Ray, I got it. But I was clearly responding to your answer to Kristine at #56, not to the original post. My point was I found the “BIG difference” between Ulrich and Anderson insensitive at best and likely interpreted as some criticism of Anderson, perhaps not by you, but parsed, arguably by others.
As for the original post, I found that especially offensive to some Toscano, not sure which. I am fond of Margaret and have known her for many years. I don’t know Paul other than by some of his writings and a few cordial conversations, but that is irrelevant. Whether I agree with them on a point of doctrine is equally irrelevant. I’m not comfortable with your comparisons, not comfortable with naming names and in so doing holding people up to potential ridicule merely by keeping the excommunications current, not comfortable with speaking of them in the same breath as those who have long been enemies of the church, not comfortable with any reaction to excommunication other than trying to show forth greater love. I would like to see ended public judgments of the excommunicated by name and when identified as excommunicated. (And Margaret’s discussing the excommunication in The Mormons documentary doesn’t change my view. The fact she posits her view doesn’t give us any other or opposing information. What is there for us to say? And how can I possibly know how deeply the gospel is embedded in anyone?) The parsing we cannot do goes far beyond grammar and into issues of which we must be ignorant, issues of truth, justice, the heart, the emotions. Our words cannot be exact when our knowledge is so lacking. I would have considered the subject, omitted the names and made the comment as to your general principle only. But I know, that’s just me, an old mama bear perhaps too protective of friends (none of whom have requested or endorsed my defense), family and some treasured ideas and desperately in need of hibernation. I’m happy to disagree on this one and look forward to many ideas on which we can agree.
I hope you are all searching the scriptures to see if it is true.
“Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”
#100 – who knows for sure? In the first instance it’s possible that he left that portion out. However, we do know that “perfect love casteth out all fear.” Joseph didn’t have a lot of traditions or expectations and it’s possible that people steeped in religious dogma might literally fear what they don’t know. Joseph, in the first vision, had just been subjected to a dark and infernal power, salvation from that power which was close to consuming him could have left him with great relief and gratitude, giving him no time to fear in contrast. Also in the account of Moses in the PofGP, chapter 1, Moses didn’t have any fear recorded of his encounter with deity.
If you look at the second scenario, Joseph was pretty used to visitation at that point. I think back to the time section 76 was given. Sydney Rigdon was weak and pale afterwards. Joseph’s comment to the others who were present when the revelation was given? “He’s not used to it like I am.” I have no problem reconciling JS’s “lack of fear” with truth. Troll somewhere else.
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them
up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like
the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them
Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be
here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for
Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the
cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When
the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and
touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one
George: Why didn’t Joseph Smith fall in fright? Probably for the same reason that Stephen didn’t cower in fear but stood up forthrightly and declared that he saw the Son on the right hand of the Father’s glory. Acts 7:55-56 “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Sheesh, are you serious?
14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
George, congratulations. You have proved that different people react differently to spiritual experiences. Does everyone feel the Spirit the same way? No. Many share similar experiences, but it’s slightly different for me each time. I can only imagine what I would do or think if a Heavenly visitor came to me, but I can guess that it would be different from what many of you would do or say. It would likely be similar to what many of you would experience as well. Different strokes for different folks. Just because someone experiences a matter differently, that doesn’t make it any less real or accurate.
Let’s ignore the above for the sake of argument. Bear in mind that JS wrote this FV account years after it actually transpired. Everything he wrote was through the lens of years of spiritual experiences. I don’t remember my friends as they were. I remember them as they are now. If I think of my friends in something that happened 10-15 years ago, I don’t picture them as they looked then, but as they looked now. You’ll probably find similar experiences in your own life. I stand by my previous statement of the Kirkland temple visit, he was used to it.
Post 105: That is a weak comparison in seeing the “Glory” than those described by Joseph Smith.
Yes, I am more serious and convinced that Joseph Smith was a false prophet.
Each one of you know if you were sincerly honest with yourself, that you would have had to change your underwear after experiencing the accounts he describes. Can you imagine yourself being there when “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters” and not think it worthy to note that you were frightened.
I prayed and also asked the Lord, how does a simple man know the Truth. I said it shouldn’t be that hard Lord. I shouldn’t have to study the early history of the church, and all that dogma; and try to find where God is three or God is one.
His answer to me was that the Truth was in His word – The little things.
George, instead of quoting more scripture, why don’t you answer the references that disprove your point? Has every recorded visitation with deity resulted in a reaction of pure terror? Answer: no. End of your argument.
29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
9 ¶ Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.
Post 110 – not an comparison – Jacob’s wrestling with God
24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip
4 And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.
5 And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.
6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
So, exactly how did Jacob wrestle God, George, shouldn’t he have been falling down with terror, according to you?
None of these references contain any indcation of terror. Oops! Did you forget these George?
Why was Moses not falling down in terror, George?
What about Gen. 18, George?
How do you explain Abraham’s behavior? He not only didn’t fall down with fear, he negotiated with the Lord. Was Abraham a false prophet too, George? Are you calling Abraham a liar?
I went with the last one, but this reminded me a longstanding question that i’ve posed to some of my YSA friends. Not at all intending to threadjack, but this is something along these same lines that i’ve always wondered:
If the first presidency was to declare that premarital sex is no longer seen as sin, or at least not a sin that deemed one unworthy of things, how long would all of the engaged/serious relationship but not married couples wait to have sex? I think it’s interesting to think about. There’s the potential for many different responses.
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