Comments about ‘Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Proof is in the eye of the beholder’

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Published: Monday, March 21 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Fort Knox, KY

Thank you.

Magaju win
Scottsbluff, neb

Poof only in the eyes of the beholder. So when one teaches facts that is produced by lies and false information it is truth. while one who goes by scriptures and truth and does not destort the prophets words or christ words they are the Liars? No truth is not wishy washy it is factual and can be proven, but not by so called scholars who want to make themselves look good and hide truths so they can force all others to believe in what they say or else. This is not from god but from the other one. As I have stated before you will fall and all will be destroyed because you puff yourselves up and Our people will have the gospel given to us because of the pride in your hearts. We are silently waiting and by the looks of it, it will not be to long to wait.

Ogden, UT

You have made an excellent and essential point with regard to the importance of personal testimony and the fact that "proving the gospel" to be true would be contrary to the Plan of Salvation.

Thank you.

Provo, Ut

Then why all this talk of gaining testimonies, and personal revelation? Mormonism is principly about bridging the gap, via direct communion with God - reading the Book of Mormon and recieving a "witness" of it, etc.

Secondly, what an asinine set of assumptions of the "critics". There is a highly naive theme among Mormons, perhaps most religions, that those who do not accept the weak "evidences" could not be persuaded by greater evidence. It is absurd to suggest such a thing. Rather, the obligation rests with those who would demand religious conformance, to offer good reason as to why. Extra-scriptural references within old world artifacts, referring to Nephi, would indeed be significant - from this critics point of view.

As for 2 Nephi 2:11-16 - Lehi states that there must be "OPPOSITION" in all things. In other words, choice, good for evil, bitter for sweet, etc. He does not say that there must be "contradiction" in all things. Opposition refers to two or more competing forces which push against each other. Contradiction is logical dillema based on competing ideas, where both cannot mutually exist. Either the Church is true, or it is not.

Searching . . .
Orem, UT

It is the Mormon conundrum: If the BoM events actually happened, it had to have happened somewhere; yet, because of the miraculous nature of the BoM advent, if any direct evidence is found, then faith and agency are compromised.

The children of Israel were guided by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night and led on dry ground through the Red Sea.

Peter lived with Christ during His three year ministry and witnessed many miracles.

Laman and Lemuel saw and received counsel from an angel.

Lehi was given a miraculous compass on which the writing was updated periodically to guide his family through Arabian peninsula.

Joseph Smith was threatened by an angel with a sword to institute polygamy or die.

It seems that God has often acted in ways that take away agency and diminish faith. You'll notice that in many of these examples, followers were capable of choosing anyway. The conundrum tends to look more like an excuse. If the BoM is historical, there should be proof. Don't complain that it's questioned; that is the nature of learning. If it is strong enough, the proof will be justified_through_questioning.

Somewhere in Time, UT

Dear Mr. Ashe: This is a really excellent article. And...it is true, there are many who, if God himself came down and told them the truth, they would NOT believe. Faith requires humility and willingness to listen to the spirit. There are mountains of evidence that support the BofM and the Gospel of Christ if one has the humility to listen. Unfortunately, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

Keep up the good work.

Bountiful, UT

"I should note two important points regarding the nature of evidence and the necessity of faith. First, Im unconvinced that any critic would convert because of some alleged proof because I doubt that any proof could ever satisfy those who have truly hardened their hearts against Joseph Smith."

Although I don't like the us versus them black and white mentality of Ash, I think there is some truth to this statement. Joseph Smith did some truly inexplicable things that I would characterize of evil. It would take a significant amount of evidence supporting the Book of Mormon to overcome the piles of evidence demonstrating that Joseph wasn't what he claimed to be. I personally know dozens of people that have gone from fully active, believing Mormon to non-believer and even anti-Mormon based on a study of the available scientific evidence. I do not know of a single person that has converted to Mormonism because of some scientific proof, rather converts typically describe spiritual or social reasons for conversion, which is fine, but let's not pretend that it's something that it isn't.

Phoenix, AZ

It seems the search for real material evidence to support the Book of Mormon has resorted to the juvenile excuse of: we can't find or prove it, but; you wouldn't believe us no how, no way, anyway. But it is true and God is going to punish you.

Somewhere in Time, UT

Dear Mr. Ashe: Some of the above posts are absolute "proof" of everything you have stated in your article. Again, there are none so blind as those who will not see. Sad.

Twin Falls, ID


Aren't you suppossed to be at a wedding in Hawaii? Are you there now? If so, go enjoy the beach!

Gray, TN

You can only find things where you look. If you are trying to find your "lost keys", but you never look in the drawer in your spouse's nightstand, then you cannot claim that your keys are either "in your spouse's nightstand" or "absolutely not" in your spouse's nightstand -- unless you personally actually LOOK in your spouse's nightstand for your FIRSTHAND witness of what you find in your spouse's nightstand.
I'm afraid that in most cases of religion, people don't look (seek) all possibilities.
If someone "sees" the Book Of Mormon, but doesn't "read" its contents, then they may not ever truly "see" what's inside the book. But this is the part that many people fail to do... because it requires "effort" on the reader's part, and that is to accept the "challenge" that one of the supposed authors of the BoM provided to see if it is a "true book" (see Moroni 10:3-5) and I mean go look it up, and then you can still determine in your own heart, without polluted influence, what this book means to you... personally to you.

Otis Spurlock
Ogden, UT

Michael Ash,

I think you are being a little disingenuous here. For example, in your book Shaken Faith Syndrome, you state that many LDS find that their testimonies are weakened or destroyed by certain scientific findings, certain items in Church history or something else they may have read. So, certain evidence can lead someone away from the Church, but certain evidence will never bring someone to the Church?

You are giving me a headache with all of your contradictions and mental gymnastics.

Also, I would bet you my life if archeologists found Zarahemla, tens of millions (if not more) people would immediately flock to the Church. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

It sounds like the real problem is lack of faith not scientific evidence. Why not just stick to faith then rather than twisting yourself into a pretzel about what science does or does not support?

Salt Lake valley, UT

@searching "Joseph Smith was threatened by an angel with a sword to institute polygamy or die."

The historical evidence that Joseph Smith did say that an angel with a sword threatened him is based on weak historical evidence. There is no known primary record that Joseph Smith did say that, and the statements about the angel and sword were made many years later. It is true that LDS General Authorities and religious teachers have referred to the story of an angel and sword, but those men weren't living during the life of Joseph Smith, and the question, then, is where did they get their information. I personally have never accepted that story, because it is based on weak historical evidence and thus susceptible of being an inaccurate story.

Lehi, UT

Thanks Mike, another great article. I appreciated how you discussed the purpose of faith, in spite of all the powerful evidence.

There are those who will always deny, even noonday light in the middle of their night. So, as Mike points out, we must still seek.

Troy was thought to be mythic for years, but when evidences were discovered, it didn't change any lives.

And, BoM evidences are more proving than many things the critics believe, yet this clearly doesn't save them. There is always room for doubt, even among those seeing Jesus with their eyes.

Clearly, those straining at gnats and swallowing anti-Mormon camels here can always find justification for disbelief. And that's how it's meant to be, even though it is reaching a point where they must abandon logic to deny the BoM, still, anyone is free to doubt anything. We must seek higher things.

@Megajuwin, it's an honor to have the views of a Lakota with a testimony.
Where do you believe the BoM took place?
How do Lakota fit in with that?

Is it offensive when people misuse information trying to prove you are not descended from BoM peoples?

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

To the critics:

This is exactly the same thing I stated last week. As Mormoncowboy so well stated Laman and Lemeul saw angels. They even heard the voice of the Lord and saw many miracles while in the Arabian Desert but still fell. Why because without the confirming testimony of the Spirit, it availeth one nothing. Sure Otis is right millions may flock to the Church but until they receive confirmation of the Spirit they will NEVER be fully converted.

Yes, Peter saw all of the miracles and when Christ asked "WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of God." Christ then stated, "That it wasn't man that told him this but the Holy Ghost." That is what converted Peter yet he still would deny the Christ before he was fully converted.

The other is that those critics of the Book of Mormon who keep saying there is no proof have been proven wrong several times over. It has even been said that the scholarship of the apologists is actually defeating the critics so again Charles is wrong. Nothing in science is going to prove or disprove the Book of Mormon.

Northern Lights
Louisville, KY

I recall one example of this week's theme in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus the Begger in Luke chapter 16. When both had died and Lazarus looked across the great gulf which separated him from paradise, he asked Father Abraham if he could go back and warn his five brothers. To this, Abraham responded, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." The Rich Man then asked, "Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent," to which the response was "If they ahear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."

Jerusalem stands today, and yet millions still refuse any belief in God. There is no reason why this would be any different with Book of Mormon lands. That is simply not the way God works.

Scottsdale, AZ

It amuses me when Mormons use Luke 16 to prove a point, but then simultaneously reject the doctrine of hell (unless you want to say that the rich man was a son of perdition; but saying this will cause more problems for a Mormon than it solves).

The bottom line is that a true prophet's words must conform to previously received revelation. Revelation is often confirmed by miracles, though not always. Even false prophets produce miracles to try to draw the faithful away. It may be that the Lord raised up Joseph Smith to test his people -- to see whether they would remain faithful to him, discerning the deception (Deuteronomy 13:1-4). Christians must not abandon previously received revelation, even if they receive a miracle telling them to do so (like an angel appearing, or a spirit giving a burning feeling in the heart). Mormonism is polytheistic; this alone is grounds to reject it, even if the Book of Mormon offers a confirming miracle. We must be careful which spirits we open our hearts to, lest we be deceived. Test the spirits. Do not believe every spirit. The Scripture is very clear on this matter.

Provo, UT

I appreciate the comments from thoughtful, non-attacking folks on this board on whether the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction or a book of God. I also appreciate the THOUGHT that goes into some of the comments that use logic and reason to come to a conclusion about truth. Using our hearts and feelings to find truth isn't going to lead us to finding the truth. Using logic, thought and reason and examining the evidence will lead us to truth. Truth is black and white and doesn't care about feelings.

I appreciate JohnnyLingo's comments about the need to read the Book of Mormon and really see and look at its contents. I spent 30 years of my life studying the Book of Mormon in seminary, on a mission, institute classes and as a family and as a Gospel Doctrine teacher. I quoted Moroni's promise to LDS and non LDS folk probably over 1,000 times and have read, studied, and prayed about the Book of Mormon over 25 times. Yet, I know that without seeing any EVIDENCE of it being a book of God that it is instead a book of fiction.

Lehi, UT

The great conceit of those who seek for signs is that any sign given and received will be sufficiently convincing of anything great.

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