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“You can’t prove God doesn’t exist!”

Of course you can’t. You can’t prove a negative. Whether or not God existed was not the reason I left the LDS church. I didn’t leave the Church because I was looking for some sort of sign, some sort of empirical evidence of the existence of God. No one is saying that science is all knowing, all powerful, and the trump card against belief in God. In fact, my decision to leave the Church was not even about science, it was about truth. (That being said, there is plenty of peer-reviewed, reliable, testable science in multiple fields such as archeology, Egyptology, and genetics that makes very good cases against Mormonism. But this isn’t about that.)

The Spirit is said to be the ultimate measure of truth. It testifies of pure truth. So why is it then, that it has testified to so many people things that are not true? Things like the ban on blacks and the priesthood being divine? The method of Book of Mormon translation? What about other churches, who receive a witness that Islam is God’s one true religion? What about the fresh high school graduate whose bosom burned when she prayed about marrying one of Warren Jeffs disciples?

How does one follow the prophet, who “knows the way” so we “don’t go astray”, when prophets have made so many mistakes and false steps? Science is not the enemy of the Church – the Journal of Discourses and contemporary journals are. The doctrine of prophets perfect leadership “never leading the Church astray” is a bold faced lie. How does the Church claim moral high ground while at the same time stopping short of apologizing for racism, polyandry, teenage brides, secret polygamy, etc?

I remember arguing “God needs to test our faith!” and “There has always been contrary evidence!” But at what point do we stop blindly doubting our doubts and objectively look at our own beliefs like we do everyone else’s? If these same arguments for “staying in the boat” could equally apply to Jehovah’s Witnesses or Scientologists, they are neither intellectually or spiritually honest.

Science was not the issue when church leaders continued to practice polygamy after the supposed “revelation” that was the manifesto. Science was not the issue when Joseph told majorly varied versions of the First Vision. Science was not the issue when Church leaders insisted it was the will of God that blacks should not receive the priesthood. Science was not the issue when Joseph publicly lied and violently suppressed his practicing of polygamy. Science was not the issue when City Creek and Florida cities were built using interest off of tithing money.

It is easy to vilify science and call those who criticize the Church faithless doubters or unwilling to listen to the Spirit. But perhaps if less people listened to the Spirit as taught by LDS leadership there would have been less child marriages, less racism, less lies, and more love.



Albert Carrington
Albert Carrington
Albert Carrington served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until he was excommunicated for adultery. During his disciplinary court, Elder Carrington tried to argue that he had only committed "a little folly in Israel!", but the current brethren couldn't be bothered to give him a break. Learn more about Elder Carrington here.
  • k_space

    “Science is not the enemy of the Church”

    The interesting thing is that most members would agree with this statement. I distinctly remember a rowboat analogy being used in a science class at BYUI – the gospel is one oar and science the other. But then they used easier issues like whether or not there was death before the fall, and how long the creation lasted as examples. No mention of the BoM and DNA, anachronisms, and the BoA translation issues – all of which fall into the realm of things that can be scientifically evaluated.

    I found it terribly stressful on my mind to be a Mormon scientist.

    “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist”

    Its not that you can’t prove a negative. You can’t. But, at least within the realm of science, you can’t prove a positive either. Its an issue with inductive logic. People who say things like “you can’t prove God isn’t real” are really exposing their ignorance. As if we should believe everything that can’t be proved wrong. Ever heard of Russell’s teapot? Or Sagan’s dragon?

    “Florida cities were built using interest off of tithing money.”

    Uhhh, I’m going to need a citation for that one. There was a rumor at one point that they were planning something like that, but I don’t think the project panned out.

    • AlfaRomeo

      I don’t have any citations for the impression I’ve got that they’re still talking about the Florida subdivision, or that City Creek was funded from interest on tithing. But what funding alternative is there? Fast offerings? The most likely candidate seems to be profits from Church-owned businesses, but does anyone really think the Church’s businesses in this economy can generate enough income to pony up billions of dollars for unrelated real estate investments? Also, what scriptural support is there for the idea that the Church should be involved in stuff like that in the first place? Daymon Smith in “The Book of Mammon” highlighted the absurdity by saying something like, “The Church is building a multi-billion dollar shopping mall in downtown Salt Lake City, as God’s children have all done since time immemorial.”

      Zelph, thanks for your posts. Your story is very similar to mine, except I have just a few spiritual experiences and evidences that I’m comfortable attributing to God, or to Joseph Smith’s prophetic ability. The rest of my previous Mormon devotion I attribute to psychological effect and hero worship, but those few items I can’t explain away. Admittedly I’m hesitant to state them publicly lest someone tear down my remaining hope, but there you have it. In any case, thank you for stating your story so clearly.

      • k_space

        “The most likely candidate seems to be profits from Church-owned businesses”

        Agreed. In fact, I think that’s what LDS inc says too. I don’t believe that fast offering were used, and I am doubtful that tithing was used. I would like the law to change to require churches to disclose their finances so we can know for sure.

        “does anyone really think the Church’s businesses in this economy can generate enough income to pony up billions of dollars for unrelated real estate investments?”

        Yes, I do think church owned businesses could pony up billions of dollars without dipping into tithing. I don’t know why you think that is far fetched.

        “Also, what scriptural support is there for the idea that the Church should be involved in stuff like that in the first place?”

        Didn’t you hear? Dave Bednar is scripture, so maybe he authorized it. I honestly don’t know how TBMs justify it.

  • Arwen Undomiel

    Very interesting post. I have heard before that church is using tithing interest for their business deals. Is there a source we can look up to confirm this? I would love to get my hands on this information. Please let me know. Thanks.

  • fides quaerens intellectum

    “The doctrine of prophets perfect leadership “never leading the Church astray” is a bold faced lie.”

    A favorite quote of mine: “The problem is that Catholics believe in an impeccable, infallible pope; but don’t actually think that’s true. Mormon’s believe in a fallible, mistake-prone prophet; but don’t actually think that’s true. If only they could meet in the middle.”

    I’ll have to disagree on interpretation of the “never permit.. [ the prophet ] to lead the church astray,” which, I acknowledge, pits our subjective “truths” against each other. When I hear “God will never allow the prophet to lead the church astray,” I don’t think the church will never implement a bad program, give up a bad idea, or go for a decade putting too much or too little emphasis on something important to God. I think it means “God will never allow the prophet to lead the church into a state of general apostasy.” Hell, the first presidency disagreed in Peter’s day on heaps of stuff, and they had apostles storming in and out willy nilly. I’m not persuaded that Wilford Woodruff was speaking of perfect leadership as much as he was addressing a fear of following a prophet into hell. BUT, I understand, that is definitely an interpretation.

    • Justin

      Most often the issue referred to in this context is that of blacks being denied the priesthood and temple blessings. Brigham Young actually taught as doctrine repeatedly that they could not have the priesthood or be sealed. Yet, in the church’s essay addressing the change they state that there was no known revelation on this and that it was basically just Brigham speaking as a man, not as a prophet. This is an example of a prophet leading the church astray to the detriment of the entire African race for 150 years according to the church.

      The alternative (stating that it was God’s will) isn’t much better since it would mean that not only is God changing based upon public opinion, but that God is ok with racism, oppression, and denying happiness and blessings based upon skin color – an uncontrollable feature of our genetic heritage.

      Of course, at this point now that the church has made a statement on it, it’s also indicative of a lack of leadership from God in either case. If the church is telling the truth, then God failed to lead his prophets in correcting the mistake. If they are not telling the truth and it was doctrine, then he has failed to correct that teaching.

      Just one of many, many, many issues.

      • fides quaerens intellectum

        I guess I just hate the inconsistency. To use the example you provided: Priesthood availability. Well, initially lets have it available only to a 12th of God’s chosen people. And then after a few thousand years… We can let all Jews have it. And then after another couple thousand years… gentiles. And then after another couple hundred years… all skin colors. And who knows? Maybe in not too many years, all genders!

        It doesn’t bother me that you have a problem with that, or that anyone does! That makes sense to me. It just bothers me that people proclaim shock and awe at “new” ways that mormonism invented to discriminate, as if they hadn’t grown up learning them in the bible. Does that make any sense?

        • Justin

          I like the way you cover the history in your first paragraph. Well said!

          I don’t think that the church is finding new ways to discriminate beyond the culture the leaders have created. But frankly, I think Christianity as a whole has a big problem with discrimination in general, as well as many other religions. That said, my comment was mainly addressing the issue of prophets leading the church astray which is an unequivocal fact. But it sounds like we’re on the same page with that unless I misunderstood you.

        • k_space

          “as if they hadn’t grown up learning them in the bible”

          I think that is a good reason to not believe in the bible either.

          “Priesthood availability”

          Lets call it what it is: temple availability. Your explanation seems to imply that Brigham had a doctrinal reason to deny the blacks the priesthood – it was just like old times. There are two problems with that. a) Joseph Smith gave the priesthood to blacks and didn’t seem to have any problem with it and b) the recent essay on the topic on lds.org does not take this stance at all. In fact, it leaves little room for any other conclusion than that the prophets from BY to Kimball were racists who made a mistake in keeping blacks from saving ordinances.

  • dmmacfarlane

    Given the fungible nature of money [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fungibility], it doesn’t really matter which pile they take it from. The complaint is that the priorities are skewed since it seems like building multi-billion dollar malls is a deviation from standard religious objectives.

  • Shem

    Here’s something I’ve noticed with the debate whether or not there is a God.

    -Believers think if they can prove of a possibility of a God, the Bible is true (or the Book of Mormon in Mormonism).

    -Non-believers think if they can prove the Bible to be a load of crap, God doesn’t exist.

    Where is the option where God exists, but all religion is a bunch of crap? Now, I’m not making any claim since I’m agnostic, but it seems like that option is often overlooked.

    • k_space

      “it seems like that option is often overlooked”

      I don’t think its overlooked at all. When I was an LDS missionary, TONS of young people would tell me they believed in God but didn’t believe in organized religion.

      “Non-believers think if they can prove the Bible to be a load of crap, God doesn’t exist.”

      sorry, but no. Non believers would say that theists are making a positive claim – that God exists – so it is their job to provide adequate proof, otherwise we should not believe their claims. I’m not aware of any compelling evidence to believe in the Abrahamic God, personally.

      • Shem

        I never said it was 100% that way. I was merely pointing out a lot o people’s thinking based on the debates I’ve seen on the internet.

      • Mormon Gadfly

        Theists are making much more specific a claim than that God exists. First of all, they usually are completely unfamiliar with their particular holy book, relying instead on the current cultural milieu of their denomination. Look at Mormonism and how deviated from its own canon it has become, e.g., WoW, temple ceremony, worship services, etc. Second of all, they are not usually asserting that God exists, but that Allah, or Jesus, or Jehovah, or Elohim. That is an entirely different assertion than “God Exists.” And third, for now, what is the sort of evidence that would compel you to believe in the Abrahamic God which you cited in your post? That’s what I want to know.

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