Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mormon Apologists

I think it is important to talk briefly about Mormon apologists and their role in the church. Apologists are people that are concerned with the systematic defense of a position. LDS apologists are people that already have preconceived ideas about the Mormon church and they defend and provide counter arguments to things that might question the claims by the Mormon church.

Role of LDS Apologists

If there was one single important thing to know about Mormon Apologists it would be that their job isn't to convert people to Mormonism, it is only to keep people that are already members in. What that means is that Mormon apologists only have to tell members that something is possible. They don't have to prove that something actually happened and they don't even have to prove that something is plausible. For example, when talking about the geography of the Book of Mormon, there are no specific cities found, only a general land mass that doesn't even have the correct orientation. Hence, Mormon Apologists aren't trying to convert anyone, their sole responsibility is to provide evidence to members that it is possible, even if it is not very likely. Most of the time, they have to twist meanings or only tell part of the story for it to fit the claims made in the Book of Mormon. Above all, LDS apologists almost always have to disregard statements made by Joseph Smith and other prophets. Nobody discredits LDS prophets and apostles like LDS apologists.

Apologists and absence of evidence

LDS apologists follow the logic that just because there is no evidence to support the Book of Mormon doesn't mean it's not true. In other words, lack of evidence doesn't disprove something happened and therefore it is still possible. As long as it is still possible, most members are satisfied.


Anonymous said...

Here is the big issue with your 'journey'... Matters of faith are never based on solid proof. If you are an active member (semi-active) and you served a 2 year mission then you know what you need to do to remove the challenge you are facing. Basically put if you read spurious information long enough you allow doubt to enter your mind. I promise you that the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church. No amount of spurious or apologistic literature will change that. The reason I am not affected by the whirlwind of opinions is that my belief comes from a better source -- from He who gave the truth. The ONLY way to know for sure is do do what you supposedly spent 2 years teaching people to do --- ask with a sincere heart with real intent (meaning you actually do want to know the truth) and the promise is you WILL know. Any other means of ascertaining truth will ultimately lead to confusion. That is why there are over 30,000 different christian churches. Each one tried to 'come up with the truth' on their own instead of turning to the real source. I hope you will reconsider your position. If you truly did serve an LDS mission you know what is at stake if you are wrong (whether or not you believe it now.) A word about covenants: you entered into several. Lack of belief does not absolve you from the responsibilities you made. You may hide behind the guise that 'I don't believe it anymore'and yet, just because you choose not to believe does not change truth. I don't fault anyone for their beliefs, but want to impress on anyone who reads this that truth is truth, irrespective of personal belief. Just because a person doesn't believe something doesn't make it automatically untrue or something that doesn't ultimately affect them.

Zelph said...

Thank you for your comments, and I appreciate your opinion. Before we continue, let’s slow down here, because you are talking about 2 completely different things and making them sound as if they were one thing. You are talking about faith and truth. If my goal was to re-find my faith, you are correct in that I know what I would have to do. I would basically have to ignore everything I have learned and go back to the pre-mission ignorance. However, if I wanted to find truth, I would carefully examine every aspect of an issue and use reason and logic to come to the conclusion that all the evidence points to. The problem is that the evidence pretty strongly suggests that the Mormon Church is not what it claims to be. So, if someone is happy with their faith, but not with truth, I agree with you that the best way to do it is to ignore information that might cast doubt on your faith.

However, there is a problem with that and that is that. D&C 131:6 says "it is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance. So according to our own scriptures, at some point we will have to reconcile all these issues.

You have summed it up for me. The ONLY way people can believe in Mormonism is by convincing themselves. I think just like anything, people simply WANT to believe. People will believe anything as long as they have a desire to believe (you call it a sincere heart with real intent).

There is no physical evidence, not one artifact that correlates with the Book of Mormon as a historical document. If you draw spiritual strength from it, that is great, but don't go around saying it is a literal story just because you feel good reading it. I draw spiritual strength when I watch Star Wars or Lord of The Rings. It doesn't make it a historically accurate story just because it makes you feel good.

I watched the film "The Testaments". It was spiritually uplifting and the idea of a personal God that interacts with his children is inspiring and a beautiful idea. However, does that mean the characters depicted in the story were real? Does that make Jonah as depicted in the story a real person that lived in Mesoamerica?

Missionaries are sent out into the world with very little knowledge of Mormonism. It is really amazing how little most Mormons know about our own doctrine and our own history. I would say that most people outside of Mormonism know much more about Mormon doctrine than people that live their entire lives on a milk diet.

If you want to read and pray about Mormonism, then that is great, but I wish that people would do so after getting the full story. It is easy to believe in Mormonism when you are only told one side of the story. It is also easy to not believe in Mormonism when you are told one side of the story. I just wish that people, especially Mormons would seriously consider the criticisms of the church so they can really look at it objectively.

There have been events that have *proved* to me that Mormonism is not what it claims to be:

Kinderhook Plates
Book of Abraham Papyrus discovery
Salamander Letters
Native American DNA
Hill Cumorah in NY State is same as mentioned in the Book of Mormon

I do not ever use the term *prove* loosely. Could you ever really *prove* to me that you exist and aren't just a figment of my imagination? Could you ever really *prove* that the earth revolves around the sun? However, for me, the evidence is overwhelming for any one of these topics that there is no argument or room for conflict in my mind. The only thing the church can do is hope its members don't find out about it. That isn't too difficult to do when you control what they do and read by labeling everything else as being "anti-Mormon". The problem I have is when the church hides these things from its members.

I don't believe the whole notion that you just "pray and ask God" and that will make things all better. If anything, it is really because people are either afraid of what the answer might be, or they are simply just lazy intellectually. Either way, people ask God all the time if their church is true, and they all get the same answer; the church they belong to or are investigating is "the one true one". Muslims and Buddhists have the same conviction and feel the same about their religions. My point is that just because you feel good about something doesn't make it true. It is really lazy thinking at best.

God gave us a brain for a reason. The LDS church discourages intellectual thought for a reason. Whenever anyone honestly looks at the claims made by the church objectively, nobody would believe it. Fortunately for the LDS church, the human mind is relatively easy to manipulate and control.

If prayer and warm feelings were really the sole way to determine what is true, then everyone would come to the conclusion that the Mormon Church is the only true church. However, this is obviously not the case. There are 13 million members worldwide, which is less than 1/5th of 1% of the entire world’s population. Of that, only about 4-5 million even consider themselves "Mormon". My point is why would God only correctly answer such a small number of his children, and not correctly answer the other 99.8%? Are Mormons REALLY the only ones that have real intent? Are they REALLY the ONLY ones that genuinely pray to God for guidance? Are they REALLY any better or different than the other 99.8% of the world’s population? If you rounded up all the Mormon babies today and put them into families that were Muslims, Buddhists or Catholics, without giving them ANY knowledge of their true heritage, would they all come to the conclusion that they should join the Mormon Church? And likewise, if you rounded up all the Muslims, Buddhists and Catholic babies and placed them into Mormon families, without any knowledge of their true heritage, do you think they would come to any other conclusion other than that the Mormon church was true, at least the vast majority of them?

Wow, I better stop now, as I have already got carried away. Thank you for your post and I look forward to your responses.