Red_and_blue_pill

By the time I was 8, all of my friends had stopped believing in Santa. As a passionate Santa-believer, this made me sad, especially because I’d seen at least a couple of movies where Santa’s sleigh wouldn’t fly unless the children believed in him. They’re being exactly like the mean kids in that movie! I’d think, while wishing they’d just believe in Santa again so he wouldn’t be sad.

My friends would occasionally try to convince me that Santa wasn’t real. They’d tell me stories of having seen their parents come into their rooms with presents, and I’d dismiss them as either lying, or not understanding that Santa must have left the presents downstairs only to have their parents bring them up to their bedrooms. I began having some doubts about Santa when I deliberately didn’t tell my parents I lost a tooth one time, and the Tooth Fairy didn’t come. That was a blow for me, I’ll admit. But Santa was the big one, so I retained belief in him for months longer than I believed in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.

Then, one fateful Christmas as a 9-year-old, I saw my parents come into my room with presents. My then-fragile belief in Santa was shattered, and I realized that my friends had been right all along. Thankfully, I still continued to get presents from my loving parents every year, so Christmas didn’t stop being magical.

President Uchtdorf said at conference last weekend that Satan “slyly suggests that the doubter, the skeptic, the cynic is sophisticated and intelligent, while those who have faith in God and His miracles are naïve, blind or brainwashed. He will advocate that it is cool to doubt spiritual gifts and the teachings of the prophets.”

Given that the definition of the word skeptic is, “a person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions”, it’s surprising that President Uchtdorf would condemn skeptics, as church membership requires one to doubt the accepted opinions (and facts) of the rest of the world.

Choosing to “be not afraid but only believe” is what leads thousands of Utahans to fall for fraudulent schemes each year. It’s an attitude that can cause us to fall for anything. But of course, President Uchtdorf is only condemning skeptics of the church–I doubt he’d have a problem with people wanting facts and evidence before accepting other life-altering things.

The LDS church is in a transitional period–one that most religions must go through. General Conference this month only confirmed what we’ve known for a while now—that “choosing to believe” is the new “you can have certain knowledge”, because people are becoming aware of how strong the evidence against the church is. DNA evidence now conclusively shows where Native Americans came from (and it sure wasn’t Israel), Joseph Smith’s polygamy is admitted by the church after years and years of denial (which began with Joseph himself), scientists agree that there was no worldwide flood, the Earth definitely isn’t 6,000 years old, and so on and so forth.

If you’re a reader in the Mormon bloggosphere, you’ll have noticed months ago how many posts people are now making about “choosing to believe”, written usually along the lines of, “I read damning information about the church and was terrified. I didn’t know what to do because it seemed really legit, but eventually I remembered the nice feelings I once had about the church, and the idea of the church not being true was way too scary and impossible-seeming, so I determined that it’s true again/I chose to believe.”

Richard C. Edgley said, “I do not know where the city of Zarahemla was, as referred to in the Book of Mormon. I do not know why my beliefs sometimes conflict with assumed scientific or secular knowledge. Perhaps these are matters our Father in Heaven described as the “mysteries … of heaven” that will be revealed at a later date.”

Things former leaders of the church once declared as certain are now up in the air by current church leaders, who rarely speak about anything original or of real substance anymore. (I’m all for family love and charity, but let’s not pretend these are somehow prophetic teachings or that the word “ponderize” is an acceptable use of language.)

Anyway, back the point of this post. Is belief a choice?

If both sides of an argument are equal, then sure. When evidence is balanced and there’s not one side tipping the other, it would be reasonable to say that a person can decide which side they choose to believe. But life doesn’t really work like that, and Mormonism doesn’t work like that.

I couldn’t sustain a belief in Santa after I saw my mom come into my room with a sack of presents for me. I could sustain belief in him when I hadn’t seen the evidence for myself, though. I could believe my friends were lying or misguided, and that they just didn’t “get it”. In the same way, members of the church can choose to believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet providing they minimize, deny, or simply don’t see any evidence against him. Truly investigating both sides of the argument without bias rarely leads people to believe the church is true—hence why people study themselves out of Mormonism, not into it. When the only spiritual, religious-based feelings you’ve had in your life are related to the LDS church, it’s easy to think that the LDS church is special/”true”.

L. Whitney Clayton said, “Your courageous decision to believe in Him will bless you immeasurably and forever.”

I personally do not understand why believing in something that has significant legitimate evidence against it is “courageous”. (I’m talking specifically about the God of Mormonism here, not God in general—there’s a ton of evidence re: Joseph Smith and the Mormon church, but less about the existence of God himself, for obvious reasons.)

If you believe a multi-level marketing company is going to make you tons of money, even when there is data showing that people rarely make a lot of profit from those types of schemes, you may choose to ignore said data in favor of your dream of getting rich. The dream is certainly nicer than the reality, just like the church being true feels like the FAR more preferable truth when you’re in the thick of it.

I studied the history of the LDS church from a faithful perspective. I searched for answers to questions so that I could strengthen my faith. (And in the end, with the desperate hope that I could keep it.) Though my bias was 100% toward the church being true, I concluded that it was not. This is what I wish people would understand about ex-Mormons who leave because of “anti-Mormon” material (reality: church-approved resources)—we wanted it to be true. We didn’t “give up easy”, “not have enough faith”, or “think too skeptically”. I studied so much because I cared so much. I had the faith to believe that there were answers to difficult questions. I wasn’t looking for “proof”, just an explanation for evidence that would certainly trouble any reasonable member of the church.

I don’t think we choose what we believe. I think we choose how hard we seek to educate ourselves. We can choose to only educate ourselves on one side, which makes it highly likely that we’ll adopt that side of belief. That is why I have a problem with religions telling their members not to look at any information that is critical of their church. For example:


We are the sum of our experiences, and those who choose to stay in the church after learning the incredibly damaging evidence against it are, in my opinion, acting out of fear and desperate hope. That’s not an insult. I totally understand why, because I did it for a while. I also think that choices we make in our life can impair our ability to choose things in the future. Similarly to The Matrix, there comes a point where it is almost impossible to open someone’s mind to truth, because they’ve had so much falsity ingrained in them for so long. At that point, it doesn’t seem like they’re even capable of making a decision, because they’re so entrenched in the one they made a long time ago. That’s why I hear things such as my father-in-law saying, ‘There’s nothing you could ever show me that would make me doubt that Joseph was a prophet.”

I hope that we can all realize the importance of living without fear, and with authenticity. So many people are trapped in the LDS church because of family, or attendance at a BYU school, or the fear of total isolation in a Mormon-saturated area. My heart truly breaks for those people. I have such incredible respect for people who are brave enough to go against what’s accepted by others in favor of what is true and what is right. That’s what real courage is, not just believing in something that’s provably false.

 

Further reading: CES Letter

 

 



Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young
Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young
Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young would have been a millennial blogger, but she died in 1901. The wife of Brigham Young, and prior to that Joseph Smith, and prior to that Henry Jacobs, who was sent on a mission by Brigham before he married her, Zina loves writing, long walks on the beach, and playing the field.
  • Johns Johns

    Agreed. I think those that are humble enough to change when more accurate facts arise are some of the most courageous people I know. Most ex-mormons I know don’t go around saying “There is nothing that you could show me to make me go back to the Mormon religion.” Instead, they say, “Show me the evidence that indicates that the Book of Mormon is an actual translation of a record of a real people. If there is, then we actually have some meat to work with.”

  • AlfaRomeo

    The scriptures talk about this sort of thing, too, and whether you believe any or all of these particular scriptures are “The Word of God”, the examples are instructive. Christ showed up after his resurrection and chastised his followers for their faithlessness, because they’d had testimonies from Mary Magdalene, and from the disciples Christ has met on the way to Emmaus, yet they apparently discounted those testimonies as some sort of delusion, by people who hadn’t hitherto been remarkably delusional. Christ apparently doesn’t appreciate people ignoring evidence.

    Similarly, Mrs. King Lamoni asked Ammon about her husband, who had been lying motionless for two days. Ammon said he’s not dead, but is in the middle of some rapturous experience. She responded that she had her servants’ word that Ammon was a pretty powerful dude, Ammon’s word that the king wasn’t dead, and her own evidence that he didn’t yet stink, so on the basis of that evidence she was going to side with Ammon.

    • ZinaJacobsSmithYoung

      The problem here is that the Book of Mormon is probably fictitious. Also, many religions’ scriptures talk about dissenters/”apostates”.

      • Dr_Doctorstein

        No “probably” about it. The BoM is fictitious.

        • ZinaJacobsSmithYoung

          I meant to write “provably”, haha.

    • ozfan2013

      Alfa, these examples just demonstrate how hard it is to maintain faith/trust during the hard times. It wasn’t like the participants came across contradictory evidence. It was happening as predicted, but was scary for the people nonetheless because of the uncertainty.

      If you want to relate it to this article, then imagine his followers found out that Lazarus had admitted to faking his own death, or that Jesus had actually bought the wine at the marriage feast, or that the lepers were not actually healed. In the BoM example, imagine if King Lamoni’s body had actually started decomposing, or that some other servants admitted that Ammon had actually hacked off the arms from the dead raiders rather than the living.

      The problem for many post/ex Mormons was not that the beliefs were hard to maintain because of fear or uncertainty. The problem was the beliefs became contradictory to the evidence.

  • Lane

    I think the CES letter should be required reading for all Mormons. That is where I started and continued for a years worth of study. It has been so difficult to conclude that the Mormon church is a fraud but it is. I feel standing up for the truth in this day and age is like being a pioneer of sorts. That is why I appreciate the time and talents of the people writing this blog.

    • Kyndra

      I was absolutely GLUED to the CES letter, I couldn’t put it down. I had ALWAYS doubted the church despite being a member for so many years but such a beautiful gathering of all the proof and points against it intrigued me so much to where I would stay up all night reading and highlighting and now the whole idea of Mormonism is even more laughable than before. It breaks my heart to see all my family members on the blue pill with these false doctrines so heavily ingrained that I could never convince them. My parents have been so cold to me and are visibly disappointed with me and have treated me differently and with noticeably less respect ever since I told them I was done with it all. My heart goes out to those in similar situations.

  • fides quaerens intellectum

    “…those who choose to stay in the church after learning the incredibly damaging evidence against it are, in my opinion, acting out of fear and desperate hope.”

    That is EXACTLY the phrase I think of when I think of Dan Peterson, Hugh Nibley, Terryl and Fiona Givens, C.H. Maxwell, Truman Madsen, and dozens of other brilliant members of the church! Well said! They all seem incredibly fearful of the church and its history, and they are generally in a frenzied state of hope; particularly the late Brothers Nibley and Madsen. Quite honestly, I don’t know WHY anyone would give credence to their meager contributions….

    *please see it, please see it, please…* You saw it!

    • ZinaJacobsSmithYoung

      There are brilliant minds and apologists in many churches! Of course SOME super smart people will rationalize things.
      Ps. Major respect for the Givens’. They do what they do with far more integrity than the likes of FAIR!

      • George D. Watt

        Forgive me for making a personal disparaging remark about the dead, but I had several personal encounters with T. Madsen that left me feeling belittled and worthless. He was an arrogant man with no light of Christ whatsoever! I have never encountered a person so taken with his self importance. I see this quality in many church leaders, especially those with “celebrity status” within the church.
        Back on track… I have aways felt that “belief” still implies some doubt. So, saying “I choose to believe” is like saying, “I’m not sure, but I’ll choose to believe the Emperor is wearing clothes.

    • ZinaJacobsSmithYoung

      Also I’m assuming you’re being sarcastic about their “meager” contributions because none of us would consider them such!

  • fides quaerens intellectum

    Also: The picture for this post? Brilliant. The similarity between Elder Hales and Agent Smith from the Matrix are jaw dropping (when you really get into the primary source documents.) Didn’t you notice he was DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO A MACHINE at conference???!!! Symbiotic I would say. And quite frankly, that is clear to anyone who cares to do their research. #apostleormachine?

  • Darren

    The problems with the Mormon church and the truthfulness is just a microcosm of the bigger problem that we face on this Earth. It is great to see that others are uncovering the lies of the church but it is crucial and essential to also uncover the lies that humanity has been given as well.

  • pennie

    I kind of stumbled onto this blog site. I have read what is written and the comments. I have this to say. No one has to believe the Church is true. No one has to be a member. If you are convinced that it is all a fraud and a deception just turn your back, leave it behind and move on with the life that you are comfortable living.
    But for pity’s sake just leave the rest of us alone. You don’t want to be a part of it fine; we all have our right of choice. I don’t want to badger you for your choice. I don’t want to have you all badgering and picking at me because of my choice. We are all intelligent and able to decide what we want to do. I respect you for what I could say is shallow thinking, you please respect me for being what you might describe as a fearful dupe. Then we can all just live our lives and leave each other alone.
    I am an old woman and have lived my life as a faithful Latter-day Saint. I love the Savior, I love the Gospel of Christ, I love the scriptures, including the Book of Mormon. I love the temple. I love going to church singing hymns and taking the Sacrament. A lifetime of experience tells me it is true.
    I guess the second we die and move on will tell the tale. Better be darn sure you are right because at that point there is no going back to change anything.

    • ZinaJacobsSmithYoung

      Hey! We don’t leave it behind because there are too many people hurting and suffering because of the LDS church, some of them in our own families. No one is obliged to read our site – it’s not targeted at Mormons anyway, who shouldn’t even be reading “anti” material. 😉

    • Brittany Ingalls

      This is the classic “left the church but can’t leave it alone” mentality often spoken by believing members. Suspend your belief for a minute and think about how you’d react if, hypothetically, you found out the church was not what you had always believed it to be. After a lifetime of faithfulness and devotion, would be able to walk away without a second thought? There are many of us on forums such as these who are grieving the loss of the faith we held dear; please respect our designated space to do so.

    • Darren

      Have you heard of the Trivium? It was used in ancient Greece and Rome to determine what was true and what wasn’t. It was also called the “Three Paths that Lead to ONE”. When the Greek and Roman empires conquered other lands and held captives, they would prevent those captives from learning the Trivium because it was essential to their liberty and freedom. Being an ex-Mormon myself, it seems that most current members of the church don’t practice the ancient way of knowing the truth and therefore love to be held captive. This could also be called Stockholm Syndrome.

      You also should take your own advice about being darn sure that you are right but refusing to learn is one crucial mistake that any human being can make towards advancement. Your leaders aren’t what they appear to be and fear is the biggest obstacle in learning and knowing the truth.

    • ACME50

      Pennie, you seem to be well-intentioned, but you’re on the wrong site. This is a place primarily for people with serious doubts about the truth claims of the church. If you fully understood what Tanner or others who post here have gone through trying to make their membership in the church work, you’d be more respectful of this space. It’s great that you love the church, but please understand how offensive it is to tell those who have made so much effort to stay in that they should just leave. The majority here are generational Mormons. They can’t get away from it even if they want to. Family members, friends and community are all affected. Please respect that.

    • Arwen Undomiel

      I used to think the same way you do Pennie. It is different when you experience the pain of being lied to by the leaders ypu support and trust. Im just going to say that if mormons have the right to send missionaries and tell people about their beliefs, then non mormons or post mormons have the right to talk about their experience and about why they don’t agree with the church anymore. Don’t you think this is fair? To be completely fair, we post mormons should enlist missionaries as well. But we are so nice we are just ok with blogging.

  • I mostly agree with your specific thoughts about choosing beliefs. You might like my article here http://www.churchistrue.com/blog/belief-as-choice/ that gets into more of the philosophical research on the topic of willing a belief, or doxastic voluntarism.

    • Albert Carrington

      I read your post and, much like many of the post you write, thoroughly enjoyed it. While I can’t make the same conclusions you have and do disagree with some points, I appreciate your insights into why you choose to believe, I must give you serious props for approaching topics in a way they is intellectually and spiritually honest.

      Looking forward to reading more in the future!

  • K. Hawes

    Interesting read. Full disclosure, I’m an active mormon, and have been for quite some time. I must say, you’re article is very flattering and sounds plausible. But I disagree with your first premise – that there is no such thing as Santa Claus. I personally believe that Santa exists. It may not be the Santa Claus that you were expecting; maybe Santa doesn’t live in the North Pole and ride a sleigh pulled by reindeer; maybe Santa doesn’t manage an elf-run toy shop; maybe he isn’t even a he, or isn’t even the only one. But Santa exists. The “evidence” of it shows up every Christmas in my house. And I don’t hate my parents for explaining Santa to me when I was young in a way that I could understand.

    I’ve seen the “evidence” against the truthfulness of God, Christ, prophets, and the Mormon church. Forgive me if I’m not persuaded (apparently due to fear and desperate hope (and by the way, you don’t get to decide whether your comments are insulting or not – I decide what insults me. Lucky for you, I’m not easily insulted, even though I believe your comments were really meant, even in some small way, to offend). First off, honestly, I’m skeptical of that evidence, who’s “discovered” it, and what’s behind it. Furthermore, I don’t think it is wise to fix the circumstances based on currently available information. If life has taught us anything, it’s that the “truth” changes as more information becomes available. There are a lot of things in this world that I don’t understand, but that are nevertheless true. I’m sure the same is true for you. Just because some things in the church or gospel don’t match your preconceived “logical, evidence-based” notions of how things should be doesn’t negate their validity. Ultimately, eternal things will require eternal proof. I for one need to get a lot smarter to be able to understand them. But for now, I’m comfortable with operating on faith, as all must do at some point in their life.

    All that said, I can appreciate your thinking. Hope you can appreciate mine.

    • Zelph on the Shelf

      I do appreciate this comment. 🙂
      However, I feel that you kind of proved my point… haha. Santa exists only as a story—a magical mask for your parents’ love and desire to make you happy. That is how I feel about Mormonism. There may be good in it, it may be riddled with good intentions, and it may make one supremely happy, but that doesn’t mean it’s “true”—Joseph was either a prophet or he wasn’t. Santa either literally exists or it doesn’t. It’s not that complicated. So sure, Mormonism is “true” in the sense that its buildings exist and people may feel happy because of it, but that doesn’t make the Book of Mormon (a provably false book) a historical record, and so on and so forth.
      Truth may change as more evidence becomes available, but as church history, DNA evidence and other things continue to advance, they are only giving us a clearer picture of what many already figured out. (Sorry!)

      • K. Hawes

        Well, not exactly, but if that’s how you want to look at it, OK.

        If you don’t mind me asking, I’m genuinely curious about your life’s philosophy. I understand the need and pull for concrete proof (I work in the legal world – proof is our ultimate goal). But is there no room for any faith for you? Does everything have to be conclusively proven by temporal measures before you will give it any credence? That just hasn’t been how I have thought about life, particularly for spiritual things, and I’m curious how you approach all facets of your life. It just seems to me that in everything, you have to exercise some faith – by which I mean operating without understanding – or you could do nothing.

        I honestly am curious. No offense taken if it’s too personal a subject.

        • Arwen Undomiel

          After reading this other comment ypu posted, it makes more sense to me why ypu would bend the meaning of truth. I don’t have good experiencies with lawyers. I have to recognized I’m biased this way. I just hope ypu are not working for the LDS church as a lawyer. But if you are, you might be on the way to leadership, just like elder Clayton who is also a lawyer and has recently been elected to be president of the quorum of the seventy.

          I have dealt with at least two mormon lawyers/general authorities, that have callings of leadership in the church and at the same time build the kingdom of God helping the mormon church fight lawsuits, that were more concerned with protecting the church than an protecting the victims of ecclesiastical abuse. They probably thinks they are being faithful this way.

          • K. Hawes

            I didn’t realize that my profession disqualified me from engaging in discussion. Had I known, I would have saved my breath and not wasted everyone’s time. Sorry about that.

          • Arwen Undomiel

            That’s not what I said. There are good lawyers, although it is very unfortunate that the ones we remember the most, are the ones that abuse their power.

            However, your concept of truth is controversial as I understand it. I dont know you to be able to judge your character, but through your words (your concept of truth) gives me enough reason to think that when it comes to discern what truth is, you have no good judgement. Either that or you just twist the definition of what truth is to justify the actions of mormon church leaders.
            But it’s just my opinion and I might be wrong, and that I can accept. What I cannot change is the correct definition of what truth really is.

            Sent from my iPad

          • K. Hawes

            You’ve figured me out. Bully for you.

          • Arwen Undomiel

            I suppose telling the truth is bullying to you. If you want to talk about bullying I have no problem. One of the main characteristics of the bully is that he blames the victim for what he does and say.

            Also, let me tell you that one of the reasons I stopped attending church was because the elder’s quorum president in my ward came to our home and HARRASSED my husband in the street. He started yelling and made accusations against without knowing us at all. At least, I don’t go around yelling at people in the street.

            Sent from my iPad

          • K. Hawes

            I was unclear. Bully for you is another way to say “good for you”. My mistake.

          • Arwen Undomiel

            In my experience my family and I are happier now that we don’t associate with the church leadership. I hope you are happy with your decision to stay active. If somebody ever harrasses you in church and it happens to be a leader, just contact the police and sue them if necessary this is my advice.

            The church will always protect the leader no matter what. This is our experience and we testify of this. The stake president told us the only way he would release a bully from a church calling would be if the person is taken to jail. Otherwise, Leaders can get away with whatever they do and they will. Good luck.

            Sent from my iPad

        • Darren

          I had to respond to your comments because you used the word “truth” and working in the legal world in the same paragraph. I am disappointed that you would use the word “truth” and working in the legal system in the same breathe. If anyone does any research regarding the legal system, you will find it is based on fraud, lies, deception, and even murder. The entire court system is run by the Vatican and it is a money laundering system. Black’s Law Dictionary in one of the earlier editions actually had a human being listed as a “monster”. Also, we are all born as a corporation when we are given birth certificates and put on the stock market. Check out Rod Class who has gone all the way to the U.S.A. Supreme Court and found all the fraud that has been going on. Please don’t lecture us about truth because you are part of a very sinister system.

          • K. Hawes

            I’m not really sure how to respond to this. Sounds like there are several conspiracy theories I’m unfamiliar with. I think I’ll just let you guys keep discussing it on your own.

          • Darren

            There is documented proof (evidence) regarding this and if you choose to look the other way without looking into it and rather use words like “conspiracy theory” to try to pretend that you don’t have responsibility and accountability into looking into this then you are supporting a Satanic agenda and you are as guilty as others for the suffering of this planet and humanity.

          • K. Hawes

            Unless we’re living in some dictatorship, your theories are false until you prove them true, not the other way around. It’s not up to me to prove them false. If there is evidence as you claim, you have to present it. Don’t put that burden on me.

            If you want to operate that way, I’m happy to go along. There is “documented evidence” that God was directly involved in BYU winning its football national championship.

            Hey, this is fun.

          • Darren

            So now you applaud your lack of knowledge and ignorance by mocking what I say…interesting. You are living in a dictatorship, a theory can only be false if it is proven to be so. I will mention two people to check out, Rod Class and Santos Bonacci. If you laugh and mock, it only shows your level of FEAR that you have of knowledge which does lead to TRUTH. I do put the burden on you because we are individually responsible and accountable for what we know. Rod Class has a podcast on iTunes titled AIB radio.

          • K. Hawes

            I think we’re doing a disservice to this site and those who come here looking for helpful information. It’s never helpful to get snippy in online comments, and I’ve crossed that line. I apologize for contributing to this discussion. Hopefully very few are reading my comments, but that is still a few too many. This will be my last comment and visit here. Best of luck in your pursuits.

        • Bob Smith

          K. Hawes, have you read the CES letter by chance?

          And how about the back and forth b/w CES Letter author and FAIR (Debunking the CES Letter and Debunking FAIR’s debunking). Certainly one should weigh both sides of the issue? I sure did.

          It’s painfully obvious that any remotely unbiased jury would convict the church of Fraud after weighing such evidence. Hell, even a biased jury filled with people like myself, who, like the author of this article, really WANTED the church to be true would be compelled to admit that it is a fraud beyond reasonable doubt. There’s no “it’s a 50/50 chance” about it or anything even remotely close.

          As the CES letter puts it: “I’m sorry, but faith is believing and hoping when there is little evidence for or against something. Delusion is believing when there is an abundance of evidence against something. To me, it’s absolute insanity to bet my life, my precious time, my money, my heart, and my mind into an organization that has so many serious problematic challenges to its foundational truth claims. There are just way too many problems. We’re not just talking about one issue here. We’re talking about dozens of serious issues that undermine the very foundation of the LDS Church and its truth claims.”

          • K. Hawes

            I haven’t yet, but I will. Is there a lot of discussion about horses and geography and stuff like that? I’ve seen a lot of those things, and am still not persuaded. Nevertheless, I can see how others like you would be. It’s very persuasive.

            It seems like others on this site don’t like that I’m an attorney, so I’m not going to make anyone uncomfortable. I’ll read the letter, but likely won’t be back here to discuss. I’ll let you all help strengthen one another in your thoughts and theories.

    • Arwen Undomiel

      Truth changes as more information becomes available? Really? Its a way to see it, of course. But shouldn’t this be more accurate: ” truth is discovered/unveiled when we have all the information.” truth doesn’t change. We change it when we disclose only part of the truths, when we tell half truths, when we omit important imformation that is part of a full disclosure on purpose. Let’s remember God is the source of all truth and truth is light.

      When someone tries to conceal truth, that someone is not inspired of God. Unless, of course, their life is in danger and they are forced to lie. Things are simple. We don’t need to twist and complicate the meaning of truth. I suppose we can mold things our way when we want to right or control others or have power or monetary gain.

      • K. Hawes

        Agreed. You said it better than me.

        On the exception, who gets to decide when someone’s life is in danger? Is that up to the victim, or someone who cares about the victim? There is an argument that even Jesus “concealed” the truth by teaching in parables, or that he did not teach gentiles while on the earth, because some weren’t ready for the truth. Could he do the same today?

        • Arwen Undomiel

          The way Jesus taught and the way mormon church leaders handle information it’s not the same. Mormon leaders use these kinds of false phallacies to justify their actions.
          While the parables may seem to have concealed messages in them, to some people the messages were unclear and to others these messages were perfectly clear and transparent. And while it is true at some degree that we learn things little by little, that doesn’t mean that leaders can hold information from us for many, many years. When we are adults, we need to get the information wether we are ready or not, instead of living in ignorance. For example, In the case of some people that already passed away, they never got to find out that joseph a Smith translated the Book of Mormon using a rock. It’s not fair so many people have died already and did not have any idea of what has been going on.
          It’s not necessary for us to die in order to be prepared to receive truth or to get super old to be ready to know the truth. If we just follow the advice from mormon leaders that we don’t have to ask because we are not ready, then we have a life of ignorance and darkness ahead of us. Making that kind of decision will just keep us in darkness and kill our ability to learn to discern between right and wrong.

          I firmly believe that Jesus parables were not meant to conceal but to teach us to discern between right and wrong, to teach us how to think and to make decisions based on truthful information, not half truths. Some of us have left families, countries, family traditions and other religious affiliations behind to join this church, based on the knowledge that we were given that this was the true church, or at least, a church with leaders we could trust. No one asked us to make these decisions, but we made them influenced by the information we were given at the time. And now we have to face the consequences of these half truths alone, no support or help from leadership, but pointing fingers causing those that question of being apostates.

          Sent from my iPad

          • K. Hawes

            Your exception about when it’s OK to lie keeps changing.

          • Arwen Undomiel

            Can you clarify for me what I said about lying?

            Sent from my iPad

          • K. Hawes

            I think this is going downward fast. It appears you have had some troubling experiences, which tells me you have issues with more than the doctrine. I’m sorry about that. Individual members are tricky to deal with. Obviously, I’m still going to church and am clearly a difficult personality. I hope you’re in a better place and happy. Sorry for the trouble you have had.

          • Arwen Undomiel

            I appreciate your words. And yes you are right, my problem with the church is more than just doctrine. It has to do with terrible, horrible experiences with local, stake and area leaders, including two seventies, both of them lawyers.

            Sent from my iPad

  • Latter-day Thinking

    When we choose to believe in the Church, are we choosing an institution, or a people? This link is a comprehensive study of what the Book of Mormon teaches about the identity of the Church, its head in Jesus Christ, and the ultimate goals and strivings of the Church. This approach may be hope for people wrestling with difficult questions. What are your thoughts?

    http://latterdaythinking.org/2015/10/11/who-is-the-church-what-does-the-book-of-mormon-teach/

  • Brave and courageous indeed.

  • Science is the study of physical things. It seeks observable physical evidence to support physical truth. That is all it is able to do. Science *is not* the study of spiritual things, it does not use spiritual tools, so it cannot find evidence of spiritual truths.

    Also, the church isn’t really what one ought to be seeking to be true or false. The gospel itself is the focus and discerning the parts that have become corrupt over time is a chore to say the least. Even the Articles of faith make clear that we only believe things to be true so far as they are translated correctly.

    Beyond that, one must consider the sources, the age, and the mistranslations not only in translation from language to language over time, but even the translation from copy to copy before printing press existed. You cannot hold the bible as a de facto source, intended as scientific evidence unless you consider it to have been written for scientific purposes. It was not! It was written in a time where time it self was a far more abstract concept to most people, so 6000 thousand years is meaningless. Assuming that is even what was originally written. In the LDS church we believe the earth was made during creative periods, not a set specific chronology. As far as my learning is concerned we don’t have a position on the age of the earth itself. As for the flood, a regional flood that appeared to cover everything, and took 40 days to escape would from the position of a non-mariner in the ancient world, seem to be a global flood. And anyone expecting devastation will pack up anything they can save to survive after the event, assuming the make it. And no science can exist to prove that God doesn’t exist.

    Overall the “contradictions” to some people’s probably erroneous interpretations of gospel are not indicators of being false overall. The gospel, on it’s most basic, and on it’s most advanced levels are about developing your relationship with your father in heaven via spiritual development. Not about seeking physical proof and signs of a physical God. Or treat ancient texts written and re-ritten over time by mortals, to be a source of scientific truth, or even be perfect in every account.

    If you’re seeking some empirical physical indicator that God is real, you’ll never find it with physical scientific tools. At least not as we know them. I have known spirituality outside the church, and outside our scriptures, because it is everywhere. There is spirituality to many things in life, regardless of your religion. Some people just use the wrong tools to try to detect and experience it.

    The problem I have with disbelievers is they wan’t every leader to be perfect in every regard, and every member to be perfect in every regard, and every account of everything to be perfect in every regard. News flash, science isn’t perfect in ever regard either, the people who conduct it are not perfect in every regard, and the tools used to study it are not perfect in every regard. Humanity has barely scratched the surface of absolute scientific truth so far as the universe is concerned. They lack a capacity to see past the mortality of it all to the truth of things in general where spiritual maters are concerned, but can get past the flaws of science to see the greater truths where it is concerned. It is a choice, a choice to forgive the flaws of one study, but not the flaws of the other.

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