Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Apologizing for Mormon Apologists

This past week, the apologetic arm of the Mormon Church, (FAIR) Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, met at its annual conference to present its latest apologetic arguments to defend the Mormon Church. The highlights, (I use that term lightly), of the conference were published by Deseret News in the most recent “Church News”. http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/57738/The-Book-of-Abraham-The-larger-issue.html

I feel bad for FAIR, having to defend an institution that hobbles its defenders with one uncompromisable premise. That no matter what the facts, no matter what the reality, no matter what the circumstances…there can be only one answer to all difficult questions…the Mormon Church is true.

In other words, Mormon apologists must start with the answer fixed and immovable and work backwards from that premise BEFORE the question is even asked. They cannot use standard methods usually utilized in truth discovery, such as rigorous examination, questioning, testing and scrutiny to come to a conclusion. No, they must begin all arguments with their conclusion first (that the church, no matter the argument, no matter how absurd the logic used, no matter how painful the mental gymnastics applied ... IS TRUE). The Church requires one uncompromisable rule, start with the desired conclusion (the church is true) and work backwards.

The problem with starting any search for truth using the straight jacket approach employed by Mormon apologists is that it requires them to come up with all kinds of bizarre, unbelievable explanations to defend beliefs that if subjected to any other standard method of examination would simply come to the conclusion that the belief is false…or simply put, Mormonism is not what it claims to be.

Take for example the apologetic augments John Gee used at the recent FAIR conference to apologize for the Book of Abraham.

“While critics of the Church often challenge the authenticity of the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, they attach more importance to it than Church members do themselves” – John Gee, 2009 FAIR Conference

REALLY???? Critics attach more importance to it then Church members?????? WTF???

Sorry John, you’re selling, but I’m not buying. The bogus Book of Abraham is one of four “canonized” books of Mormon scripture. Last time I checked…it wasn’t the critic’s that canonized the Book of Abraham…it was the members of the Mormon Church. The mere fact that the church has made the decision to distant itself from the controversy surrounding the authenticity of the Book of Abraham, by attaching less importance to it…IS the direct cause of Mormon critic’s who have shined the bright light of truth on the bogus Book of Abraham…and it is that truth that has caused the Mormon Church to diminish the importance of the Book of Abraham out of necessity in the hope that by doing so the fraud will not be discovered by the general church membership.

But hey John….knowing that you are bailing water from a ship that is taking on water faster than you can bail…you then turn to your standard uncompromisable premise.

"The book of Abraham is true," said Brother Gee, author of A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri, at the end of his presentation. "I think it can be defended. I think it should be defended. But it's not the be-all-and-end-all of either apologetics or research or the scriptures."

There it is…you didn’t disappoint us…the Book of Abraham is true…a total dismissal of reality and its true despite not being what it claims to be….a translation of the writings of Abraham, by his own hand. BUT WAIT do I detect a sign of doubt???
You "THINK" it can be defended? Are you not sure it can be defended…are you growing tired of the fight in defending the undefendable?

But knowing that the Book of Abraham is beyond salvaging…and knowing that the Book of Abraham IS one of the many pieces of the Jig Saw that confirms that Joseph Smith was a complete fraud and charlatan…you then pivot your augment.

You say, "We cannot afford to lose sight of the big picture,"

And what, do tell is that Big Picture? Oh yeah…the answer to the question that was given before the question was even asked…that the church is true no matter what.

So are we done yet? Oh no…we’re only beginning…

Never one to fail…you then offer this gem.

"Now where is the Book of Abraham in this?" he asked. "It isn't. The Book of Abraham is not central to the restored gospel of Christ."

REALLY??? Can the Book of Abraham be a complete and utter fraud and Mormonism still be all it claims to be??? I DON’T THINK SO…

But rather than explore this gapping question you simply choose to continue:

"First, the arguments about the Book of Abraham have become so complex that even the best and brightest of critics end up arguing unwittingly in favor of the LDS position.”The Document of Breathings made by Isis is not the Book of Abraham, and most Latter-day Saints have never claimed it was," he said. "Can we agree on that issue and move on?"

I understand why Mormon apologists want to move on from this embarrassingly impossible to win argument…and of course latter day saints haven’t claimed that the Breathings of Isis were the source of the Book of Abraham for to do so would be to admit defeat…so can we agree on THAT issue and move on? Yeah sure, just as soon as Mormon apologetics admit that the Book of Abraham is a fraud…your getting close to doing so…but come on just come clean and admit it.

"Second, the critics do not deal with the issues arising from the Book of Abraham that Latter-day Saints care about. In that sense, their approach is legerdemain and bait-and-switch".

Are you suggesting that the Mormon faithful don’t really care if the Book of Abraham is what it claims to be? Umm I rather doubt that…

"Third, how the Book of Abraham was translated is unimportant. The Church does not stand or fall on the Book of Abraham".

Of Course, YOU would say that Joseph’s translation process is unimportant…lol…because the real translation confirms that Joseph’s version was completely bogus. This is why Mormon apologist have had to come up with the bizarre notion that Joseph merely used the papyri to “channel” God’s revelation…because the Book of Abraham is nowhere close to a translation of the Egyptian characters found on the papyri. But clearly the record shows that Joseph wanted his associated to think he could translate…(to perpetrate his fraud) why else would he go to such lengths to write long verses from single Egyptian characters that we now know were not even close to what Joseph said they were.

"And fourth, regardless of how the Book of Abraham was translated, it is a remarkable document that tells us more about Abraham's day than Joseph Smith could have known."

There you go again dismissing the translation process…lol…But I do agree with you that it is a remarkable document that makes some of the most bizarre claims in all of Mormondom. i.e., Kolob, loaning its light to our own sun which is just…totally false and just plain bizarre. Or the claim that one day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth, which is called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-eh….LOL it’s just plain silly gibberish Joseph made up because he thought others would think this was Egyptian talk. So YES it is a remarkable document…ah if one is truly interested in seeking truth rather than defending a fraud.

In defense of John Gee and FAIR, I have sympathy for them; they are bailing water from a ship that is taking on water faster than they can remove it. They have allowed their collective brains to be bent in so many loops and knots that they can no longer think critically. And with the availability of the internet…information is now accessible that had long been held from church membership.

FAIR is at a great disadvantage because it is literally crippled by the agenda restrains placed on it by the Mormon church…and if one of the members of FAIR were to dare come to a conclusion contrary to the “authorized pre-conceived answer”…they would quickly be excommunicated, cast off and dismissed (like we are) as wicked, pathetic, misguided tools of the mythical Satan.

18 comments:

Mormography said...

Cr@ig,

I am a huge fan. I hope to see more on the list of ‘lies’.

Just thought I would add a tidbit I picked up on an apologists blog. An RLDS left a comment linked here. He made some good points that I never realized. The RLDS have wiggle room with regards to the BoA.

brett said...

Craig,

It seems to me that the truth should be quite easy to defend. The stories never change. There is no cover-up. No anxiety. You just calmly state the facts and let people believe what they may. You can stand before any judge or jury with confidence. No secrete acts, oaths, or affairs. New scientific discoveries and even history will validate what you say. You will have no fear of man.
Which of these tests or attributes of truth does the lds church pass or possess? I'm still searching for truth. Could it be I'm looking in the wrong place?

And can I still like BYU football?

Jake said...

YOU ARE NOT A MORMON, CRAIG?! I THOUGHT YOU WERE!!! JUST 'CAUSE OF THAT JOSEPH SMITH MOVIE THING YOU POSTED HERE!!!!

Tom said...

Great stuff. You might also want to check out: http://songofgod.com/resources/video_eroel-promo-mormon-corporate-church.html

Cr@ig said...

Dear Jake,

I'm an Ex-Mormon. Please refer to my bio...it's spelled out there pretty well. If you have more questions...feel free to ask.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I saw your blog through the ex-mormon website and have a question for you... I'm not Mormon. :-)

My sister (Mormon convert, married 25+ years, 3 children - all very active Mormons) is getting a divorce. Her husband left her and I'm wondering what Mormons believe about celestial marriages and divorce.

I've read about how the husband (in the afterlife) calls the wife to a new planet. Is that right??

What do Mormons believe happens to the wife after the husband leaves and is ex-communicated from the church (that's what's happening to my ex-bil)?? I'm assuming they had a temple marriage a couple of years into their civil marriage.

Thank you very much.

Cr@ig said...

Dear Anonymous,

Q: I'm wondering what Mormons believe about celestial marriages and divorce.

A: Well first off, I'm sorry for your sisters loss. But having said that...and to answer u're question...mormon's believe that if not remarried in this life your sister will be given to another male (if she is worthy) in the next life...YES U're sister will become one of many sister wives to some Mormon-god where they will (so they believe) create worlds and have babies through out the eternities.

If she remarries in this life then she will be head wife and then help govern all her sister wives in the next life.

Many Mormon's will deney that this is a belief...but all one has to do is look at the current leadership of the Mormon church where there are curently 2 members of the 12 apostles that have more than one wife...(yeah right now) how ever to be fair...in both cases the first wife is dead and the second wife has also been sealed (married) to the husband for eternity...thus in mormon eyes they have right now more than one wife.

So bottom line your sister will be given to another and live in polygamy bliss for eternity...at least according to the Mormon church.

Thanks god that's just a bunch of crap.

Becca said...

am a never mo but I find Mormonism fascinating. I know some really intelligent, thoughtful and critical-thinking people who are duped by it and that intrigues me, so I read Mo and ex-Mo blogs as entertainment.

Having said that, the whole BoA issue makes me think: Joe Smith wasn't a very smart man, was he? Did it never occur to him that someday someone might translate the "gibberish" on the scrolls? or that he might get caught out in his contradictions and lies?

Good Will said...

"In other words, Mormon apologists must start with the answer fixed and immovable and work backwards from that premise BEFORE the question is even asked. They cannot use standard methods usually utilized in truth discovery, such as rigorous examination, questioning, testing and scrutiny to come to a conclusion."

That's because SPIRITUAL truth cannot be sensed or interpreted by PHYSICAL means. They are apples and oranges. You want "evidence". Physical evidence can be forged.

But the Spirit of God -- if, indeed, such a Spirit exists (and I say He does) -- once experienced, cannot be imitated. Certainly there are counterfeits. But the "genuine article" is unique. Once receiving that witness, what PHYSICAL evidence could ever dissuade?

I don't regret that much -- if not most -- of what I believe regarding Mormonism is yet unconfirmed by physical evidence. People of faith throughout the ages have had to rely upon the teachings of their parents, prophets, and their own "still small voice" prompting them to continue to believe.

And would you say that ALL religious faith -- however unsubstantiated -- is bunk? Or just unsubstantiated MORMON faith?

I say one must ALWAYS have faith. And I have received sufficient "evidence" from God's Spirit to yet believe.

Good Will said...

Having studied the BoA in detail in college (many years ago), I have to say that HOW the BoA was translated is, indeed, tangential. Can we not agree that Joseph Smith may have, indeed, NOT understood how he came to "know" what he was writing? That the difficult and protracted effort of (arguably futile) "translation" indeed "opened a window" by which JS received revelation in precisely the same way he received his inspirations regarding the "Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible"?

The Book of Abraham does, indeed, stand on its own independent of its alleged origins.

I think Joseph Smith naively believed he COULD translate Egyptian. And maybe he COULD -- only so far as that power pertained to the gospel truths he was ordained to reveal. I believe Joseph Smith earnestly thought these papyri were authentic artifacts having been transmitted from the hand of Abraham. Whether JS was correct in that notion does not dismiss the validity of the book itself -- anymore than the belief held by most early LDS that the "Hill Cumorah" found in New York was, in fact, that same hill referred to by Moroni as the place of his people's extinction.

With more light comes greater understanding.

I have read the BoA and know for myself that it is inspired of God. The means by which it came into my hands, however sketchy or flawed, is of lesser importance to me. My "testimony" does not rest upon the mistaken notion of "prophetic infallibility". JS was a prophet whenever he acted as a prophet. And, indeed, the BoA is a prophetic artifact.

Good Will said...

Cr@ig,

I, too, was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a "personal indiscretion" (well, several actually) for which I, too, took "full responsibility" as an elder and holder of the higher priesthood. Thus, I was, rightfully, excommunicated for a time.

Was my life ruined? Yes, substantially. But that was my fault, wasn't it? Did I suffer terribly? Yes. Did I hate the Church? No. (Even though, in many respects, I was treated unkindly and unfairly.) Still, I never held others to a higher standard than I held myself. I was flawed and so were they. If I could not allow the Lord to work through them, how could I believe He could work through me?

I never completely lost my faith in the Lord or in His Church...though I did lose faith in myself. I lost confidence in myself. And I'm sorry for that.

Clearly, you and I responded differently to the trauma of acknowledging our own failings. I have since learned the Lord is merciful. He gave me a second life. Another chance. Another wife. Five beautiful children.

I still struggle with my failings and shortcomings. But it's not the Church's fault. It's mine.

Anonymous said...

I searched the quotes you provided with the talk. The quotes you provided don't exactly match. Your first one for example seems to off. The original is "The critics do not deal with the issues arising from the Book of Abraham that Latter-day Saints care about. In that sense their approach is legerdemain and bait-and-switch."

Karl Christen said...

Good Will - If you studied the Book of Abraham for as many years as you claim, how in "Sam Hill" can you believe that the actual translation is unimportant? So now we are expected to believe that this came straight from God and that Joseph was duped in believing he was translating the papyrus?

It's that circular argument that many at FARMS use all the time. "Well you can't prove it's not true" because you can't prove the spirit did not in fact communicate to JS.

The fallacy is that Joseph Smith in the Times and Season did state that he did TRANSLATE the Book of Abraham.

So if his translation skills are in doubt with the Book of Abraham, then how can we believe the peep stone in the hat theories about the Book of Mormon.

Come on!! Go sell the Brooklyn Bridge somewhere else.

Good Will said...

Karl Christen --

The word "translation" as used (and understood) by Joseph Smith obviously incorporates activities that would not normally be construed as "translation", per se.

For example, Joseph "translated" the Bible -- but used no texts other than the King James version of that document. He relied, primarily, upon revelation to determine what had gone missing (or had been added).

The Book of Mormon, similarly, was "translated". The actual metal pages of the book did not need to be accessed, or even viewed, in order for Joseph to do his "translation" work. A curious process indeed!

The Book of Abraham, in my view, was "translated" by similar means. It was penned by revelation, even as Joseph handled the papyri.

By the same means, the Doctrine and Covenants were struck off, appended, modified and divinely created over time.

In all these cases, Joseph's "translations" were assisted by -- maybe even entirely comprised of -- revelations from God. One may gain a testimony of these things by receiving the same spirit Joseph received in "translating" them. A witness from God of their truthfulness can be had by all who would receive it.

In the same way that one may KNOW FOR CERTAIN that Jesus is the Christ, one may know that Joseph was truly inspired of God.

What word better describes the process of bringing forth in our day and language the writings and concepts of former ages? Joseph Smith was a "prophet, seer, and revelator", first and foremost, and his activities of "translation", demonstrated numerous times, befit those titles.

Cr@ig said...

Well Good Will,

I guess if you say its true ...it must be true.

AND Zelph was a great warrior and of course pure and delightsome white (cuz what other kind of delightsome is there but white)under the Prophet Omandagus He was was known from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains.

AND of course there were horses, camels elephants, sheep, milking cows and don't forget the wheat, barley and oaks that were so plentiful in the land of Nephi-A- Hah-Hah-Hah...

Yes, Good Will...I agree with you...It's all true.

Good Will said...

Is patronizing me the best you can do?

Or mocking Zelph? (And inaccurately connecting him with someone you call "Prophet Omandagus"? There is no historical account making this connection. Perhaps you meant "the people of Onendagus"?)

Sure, Joseph Smith could have made it all up. Or perhaps he was imagining things.

Or maybe he was right.

I don't know (regarding Zelph). But I have no reason to DISBELIEVE. Even so, I don't believe EVERYTHING I hear -- even when a "prophet" speaks it. The fact that a prophet says it -- or I say it -- doesn't make it true. What matters is what the Spirit of God confirms. The Spirit is the Comforter, the Second Witness -- not the prophet.

Prophets are "place holders", "spokesman", "authority figures". They do God's work and stand in His stead, when called upon to do so. This does not make them perfect -- or necessarily any more privy to truth than you or I may be. They simply are uniquely authorized -- and recognized -- to speak on God's behalf and act in His stead. That doesn't mean everything they say or do is right or perfect. They err, as do we all.

Still, I hardly think it a stretch to believe that horses, camels, and elephants existed in the Western Hemisphere (as the Book of Mormon claims) when we do, in fact, find evidence of horses, camels and elephants existing here long before Europeans arrived. True, we have no recent (pre-Columbian) evidence of such animals. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. There is MUCH we don't know or have evidence of that is, nevertheless, undoubtedly "true".

Scientists are wrong (think "anthropogenic global warming") far more than they are right. The history of "science" is practically a continuous string of recalibrated and retracted theories and "facts", altered in light of "newer" discoveries.

I do not fret that wheat, barley...and even "oaks"...seem anomalous to us (now). I'm confident that, in time, sufficient will be discovered that corroborates Book of Mormon accounts.

Meanwhile, we must live by faith, not by sight. (I'm confidant that is also as the Lord would have it be -- for now.)

Cr@ig said...

Good Will Asks: Is patronizing me the best you can do?

Cr@ig’s Reply: Umm…yeah pretty much…cuz I just don’t give a flying fuck any more.

If it works for you…I’m happy for you. If the many fracture’s pieces of the puzzle make sense…then you have my congratulations.

As for Zelph…you claim that I…”inaccurately connect[ed] him with someone you call "Prophet Onandagus"? Then you claim that there …”is no historical account making this connection. Perhaps you meant "the people of Onendagus”? WTF?

Actually “Good Will” if you merely Google Onandagus you’ll find the historical connection. ..that is if you accept the writings of Wilford Woodruff as credible for it was he as well as Levi Hancock and Reuben McBride that wrote what they heard fall from JS's lips about the Onandagus being a prophet at the time of Zelph…but fiction has a way of becoming unbelievable so I understand your reluctance to believe the story of Zelph and the so called fictional prophet Onandagus.

Then you say…Sure, Joseph Smith could have made it all up. Or perhaps he was imagining things.

Hey see, I knew we could agree on something.

And just when you were doing so well…you say…

Still, I hardly think it a stretch to believe that horses, camels, and elephants existed in the Western Hemisphere (as the Book of Mormon claims) when we do, in fact, find evidence of horses, camels and elephants existing here long before Europeans arrived.

Key word: “BEFORE”

Then you come up with one of my favorite quotes: “But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” Do you know who said that? Surprise…it was atheist Carl Sagan. Kind of ironic don’t you think? Do you even know what he was saying when he said it? It was his way of saying that something is not a fact until proven otherwise. He was illustrating the adsurdity...even the stupidity of Bible circular reasoning and the illogical thinking that faith in fictional biblical stories requires. I might add that the same logic could be applied to the fictional Book of Mormon.

Good Will said...

My apologies. I stand corrected. I misread the account of Zelph and did not research it as fully as I might have. You are correct (as far as I know) with regard to the "Prophet Onandagus".

Carl Sagan -- that famous pot smoker! -- did, in fact, coin the phrase "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

But as I tried to explain, I don't lack evidence for the Book of Mormon, the claims of the Bible regarding Christ's divinity, etc.

I have the "evidence" of God's Spirit testifying to me and the "fruit" of trying the word. I've "tasted" it -- and I like it!

To each his own (as I'm sure you'll agree). I have found this path to bring me greater light, joy and knowledge. (Sure, with my faith comes serious self-denial of certain carnal pleasures and opportunities for good ol' nasty fun. But I've also been spared a few down-sides, as well.)

Many things I had "faith" in I now KNOW to be true. My faith has played out. If it didn't work that way for me, I would have abandoned my faith, I suppose.

You might think my delusions are self-fulfilling prophecies, etc.; that I've lost touch with reality.

But I have found "reality" becoming more and more like the Book of Mormon predicts every day! I can only assume that this trend will continue.