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Mormon apologists gather, but not to apologize

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  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 9, 2012 9:47 a.m.

    Christians of diverse denominations and sects often gather in small groups in a church or a home for a regular Bible study. Are they truly trying to learn and explore? Or are they just looking to find reinforcement for what they already believe? The answer may vary from one person to the next.

    What I sense in the disciplined application of logic and reason to matters of faith is the longing to discover a rational basis for faith. In some religious cultures, that's playing with fire. We do it nonetheless because the need to know things is one of the things that makes us human. If the glory of God is intelligence, as Joseph Smith proclaimed, we'll continue doing it regardless of what warnings and admonitions about the dangers of secularism we hear from the pulpit.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    Aug. 6, 2012 5:01 p.m.

    @sharrona

    "Genesis 1:1 Greek Septuagint In the beginning God (*o Theos,Grk. 2316). Clearly God, singular. *Nominative singular article."

    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness Gen 1:26

    The words US and OUR (plural) who is the us and our that is referred to?

  • fkratz Portland, OR
    Aug. 4, 2012 7:37 p.m.

    Distant Thunder- Excellent post. Now, finally, a reason to join the CJCLDS.

  • SteveDensleyJr American Fork, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 4:43 p.m.

    Shelama wrote: "There is nothing about the Bible that compels or even strongly argues for it being anything other than man-made. Lynch and Densely will both admit that the common body of evidence regarding the BoA, for instance, is not strong enough, either." Shelama is unclear on what is meant by the evidence compelling or being strong enough to justify belief that the Bible and Book of Abraham are more than mere creations of the human mind. If Shelama means to say that there is no way to compel faith in God, I agree. But if Shelama means that I do not believe there is sufficient evidence to justify a rational belief in the scriptures, I will admit no such thing. I believe the Bible and the Book of Abraham to both be the word of God that came to us through prophets. I believe the evidence is strong enough on both accounts to justify my belief or such a belief in anyone else who cares to consider the evidence, which includes, but is not limited to, the evidence of a personal spiritual witness.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 3:22 p.m.

    RE: zoar63The book of Mormon gives a warning about being caught up in too much learning. 2Ne 9:28-29.True,
    The KJV/3Nephi Sermon on the Mount. LDS Scholar Dr. Larson finds 12 examples where JS copied the 1769 KJV errors.
    “A great portion of 3 Nephi seems to be "borrowed and lifted" from the KJV Bible. Larson found that 3 Nephi holds exactly the same sort of errors that are unique to the 1769 version of the KJV Bible Joseph Smith owned.”

    Stan Larson, The MS discoveries since the KJV have provided a much better understanding of the Sermon on the Mount. Greek MS 200 A.D. thru Latin, Syriac, Coptic and patristic early support, which leads to the original text. These are earlier and better texts of Matthews Sermon on the Mount. There is unanimity support by modern scholars, but The BoM never takes us to a verifiable text in antiquity..

    JS,”In the very beginning the bible shows there is a plurality of Gods."(Hof C v. 6 p.476)Wrong.

    Genesis 1:1 Greek Septuagint In the beginning God (*o Theos,Grk. 2316). Clearly God, singular. *Nominative singular article.

  • DistantThunder Vincentown, NJ
    Aug. 4, 2012 1:07 p.m.

    LDS people live 7-10 years longer than the average American. I'll start with that and go from there.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    Aug. 4, 2012 11:40 a.m.

    @LValfre
    "Native American's are of Asian descent .... random comment but unbiased DNA evidence leads to this."

    The scientists might want to check another gene pool. According to the Old Testament Joseph married an Egyptian woman who bore him two sons. The Book of Mormon says Lehi, who was a descendant of Joseph fled Jerusalem prior to the Babylonian invasion.

    The surviving Jews were dispersed throughout the Babylonian Empire and their DNA was mingled with their captors. Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh, one of the sons of Joseph. His family escaped the captivity. Test for Egyptian DNA for both Asians and Native Americans.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    Aug. 4, 2012 11:07 a.m.

    It is interesting there is so much Church history which is documented and can be studied but the same cannot be said for the beginnings of ancient Christianity. Historical Christianity is well documented but events that took place when Christ was born until his death, there is not a lot of reliable evidence to go on. For instance can we authenticate the authors who wrote the gospels are there any manuscripts that can be dated to the period in question that have recorded Christ ’teachings? A lot of the records the ancient Christians kept were destroyed during the Roman persecutions. The New Testament manuscripts can only be dated to the Third century A.D. at the earliest. If you were a believing Christian you would have to have a lot of faith to believe in it because that is all there is if you are looking for something more substantial to verify it.
    The book of Mormon gives a warning about being caught up in too much learning. 2Ne 9:28-29

    A man will never find God by relying on his own wisdom or the knowledge of the world.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    Aug. 3, 2012 4:03 p.m.

    @ute alumni

    "LValfre
    if you don't believe, fine. you might consider getting a life and quit being so absorbed with mormons."

    You might consider getting a life and absorbing reality.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    Aug. 3, 2012 11:52 a.m.

    Many of the comments here accuse LDS Church apologists of ignoring on downplaying evidence that contradicts their beliefs. But couldn't the same thing be said about any group of apologists?

    Christian apologists say the Bible has been proven to be true with concrete, irrefutable evidence. True, the cities mentioned in the New Testament have been proven to be correct, but does that prove Jesus existed and performed miracles? Have Christian apologists brought forth evidence of how Moses divided the Red Sea and the children of Israel walked across on dry ground? What wilderness did the wonder in for 40 years and where was the Garden of Eden?

    Atheist apologists say they've proven there is no God in the universe with concrete, irrefutable evidence. Really? Have they searched the entire universe? If so, what's on the other side? And why do atheists dismiss any findings which don't fit exactly with evolution?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 3, 2012 8:26 a.m.

    RE: Daniel Peterson, professor of Islamic Studies, "Mormonism, with its radical doctrine of a persistent soul that existed before mortal life."
    Abrahamic Faiths disagree: Islamic views Qur'anic verses explicitly state that God created man, the heavens and the earth, out of nothing.

    Judaism,(Genesis 1:1 Septuagint), In the beginning God made=(epoinsen, Grk."caused to be")heaven and earth . 2 Maccabees (a book written in Koine Greek in the same sphere of Hellenised Judaism of Alexandria, expresses a similar idea: "I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, and consider that God made them of things that were not; and so was mankind made likewise." (2 Maccabees 7:28, KJV)

    Christian,(John 1:1),In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made*= (Grk.1096 ginomai, receive being); without him nothing was made*that has been made*.

    For in him we live and move and have our Being...(Acts 17:28)Creation is dependent on God for its very existence

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 9:19 p.m.

    Don't apologise. Just recognise you've bought into the story on faith. That's your explanation. But accept that, just because you've bought in does not mean anyone else need also do so. It's faith, not science. You're in it on your own.

  • ute alumni Tengoku, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 5:14 p.m.

    LValfre
    if you don't believe, fine. you might consider getting a life and quit being so absorbed with mormons.

  • Tornogal LITTLE ROCK, AR
    Aug. 2, 2012 5:04 p.m.

    "I have come to believe that it is the tendency for many members of the Church who spend a great deal of time in academic research to begin to judge the Church, its doctrine, organization, and leadership, present and past, by the principles of their own profession.... In my mind it ought to be the other way around...."

    "Your objective should be that they will see the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now....there is no such thing as an accurate or objective history of the Church which ignores the Spirit.... Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer..."

    "Some things that are true are not very useful."

    -- Boyd K. Packer --

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 2, 2012 3:11 p.m.

    Shelama,

    I agree that LDS apologetics covers the Bible lightly because others are already doing the heavy lifting. Interesting that you say that LDS belief requires a Biblical belief. So many criticize us for the exact opposite. Generally I agree that most LDS converts in the Americas come from a Christian and hence Biblical background.

    I agree that Biblical study in and of itself (like Mormon Studies) does not always result in conversion. As to where the study begins. It depends a lot on the individual and their peculiar background. I have a friend who was Hindu prior, so not much Biblical background but that would more be the exception in the US at least. I had a Christian background but had rejected traditional Christianity. For me and others there has to be a conversion to the Bible as well as to the other LDS scriptures.

    For me the experience of conversion came early in the process, the more serious study came later. Perhaps I was a bit backwards from most. I first gained a testimony of modern prophets and the D&C. Joseph Smith and the BOM came later.

  • gdog3finally West Jordan, Utah
    Aug. 2, 2012 2:54 p.m.

    Where is the answer Dr. Doctrine?

  • gdog3finally West Jordan, Utah
    Aug. 2, 2012 2:53 p.m.

    Now this is news right here in deseret. What say you about the faith? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Shelama SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 2:33 p.m.

    Twin Lights, different people, it is true, have different concepts of what "serious, honest, critical" study is. I agree. Concerning the Bible, it really refers to critical textual and historical-critical study. That doesn't mean that BELIEVERS can't do it and retain their faith.

    As far as I can tell, Mormon apologetics doesn't extend much, if at all, to the Bible and Mormons pretty much rely on standard Bible apologetics that have been accumulating for centuries. Without believing the Bible is the word of God and substantially literal history it's pretty hard to become a Mormon. The conclusions of critical textual and historical-study of the Bible just simply do not result in conversion from Unbelief to Belief.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, Twin Lights, but the study that your speaking of pretty much begins with the belief in the Bible as the word of a god and the Gospels as literal history.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 2, 2012 1:57 p.m.

    So the big point of contention is that faith uses different methods than science?

    I kinda thought we all knew that already (paging Galileo Galilei . . .)

    Science uses the best tools available to find out how things work. Typically via direct observation (or the closest corollary thereto). It is generally impersonal and reproducible.

    Faith is an understanding that, by definition, is not something that comes from exterior observation. Instead it comes from personal experience. It is highly personal and is reproducible only via another's personal experience.

    Shelama,

    I could not disagree more. I have ONLY found folks converted to the gospel via serious, honest, and critical study. Nothing else will do. Even those raised in the church must ultimately pass that way if they would retain and grow the testimony of their youth. A serious, honest, and critical study of the gospel and of one's own self is the heart of gospel teaching.

  • Shelama SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 1:18 p.m.

    Lagomorph, people can, indeed, "come to their beliefs through many pathways," but not often, if at all, based on the conclusions of serious, honest, critical study. That's not to say that missionary contacts can't or don't delve somewhat into the apologetics but it's doubtful that conversion to Mormonism is ever based on the conclusions of such study. It's the same for Christianity: the serious, honest, critical study of the Bible does not lead to the conclusion that it is either divine, or as literal or substantially literal history, or to conversion to Christianity. There is nothing about the Bible that compels or even strongly argues for it being anything other than man-made. Lynch and Densely will both admit that the common body of evidence regarding the BoA, for instance, is not strong enough, either.

    With few if any exceptions critical study leads people out of both Mormonism and Christianity and not into it.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 12:59 p.m.

    Abeille: "...Lagomorph makes the assumption that ALL LDS members ignore contradictory evidence." [emphasis added]

    Please reread my post and explain how this statement is supported by what I said. I fear you are projecting other ideas onto my words. I was speaking of the practice of apologetics in general, whether LDS, Christian (generally), creationist, Islamist, or whatever. The quote I responded to was from a woman identified in the article as a nonLDS evangelical. I never mentioned Mormonism in my post at all (although it was posted in the context of reporting on an LDS conference in an LDS newspaper).

    The practice of apologetics as described in the article (and as I have observed in other areas, namely nonLDS creationism) does require the selective acceptance of data (or the rejection of contradictory data-- same thing). People (including LDS) can come to their beliefs through many pathways, including apologetics. Just because some in the faith practice apologetics, and apologetics can entail selective acceptance of data, doesn't imply that ALL adherents of a faith reject contradictory evidence. Please reconsider your reply.

  • fkratz Portland, OR
    Aug. 2, 2012 12:16 p.m.

    gray man - OK, so lets assume I've got a theory that a correctly sized wetland can reduce acid mine toxicity of a small stream in Montana. There have been laboratory studies done, many of which I've read, but I want to understand how to size a wetland for a certain stream toxicity. I set up small scale models and collect data for parameters I want to measure. I analyze these data using linear regression techniques and develop a set of equations that will be a part of a body of work which will help industry and government deal with stream toxicity. I'm not defending anything, or discrediting anyone. I'm doing scientific research.

  • Shelama SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 11:58 a.m.

    Interesting thing about FAIR (and BYU-Neal Maxwell). The intellectual elites will admit that the evidence is not strong enough to compel an affirmative conclusion and that it's rational to conclude from the evidence that there's nothing divine about Mormonism or the BoM or BoA (or even the Bible, although Mormon apologetics has virtually nothing to add to the serious, critical study of the Bible). Pretty much the only people who conclude from the evidence that it's divine are those who already believe it.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    Aug. 2, 2012 11:54 a.m.

    I mean this is a Church defense organization .... what do you think their hypothesis's are? It's whatever fits their beliefs and keeps the faith. Have you ever seen a study or research discussed by these organizations that actually gives light to problems without giving an irrational explanation for it or downplaying it?

    It's funny how BYU scholars have uncovered things in the past and lost their faith, or questioned it, and then were excommunicated when they started discussing their findings. Are we suppose to 'seek the truth' or not?

  • fkratz Portland, OR
    Aug. 2, 2012 11:33 a.m.

    Abielle- I said that Dr. Peterson attempts to discredit those with which he does not agree. How many scientific journals have you read where this is done? Apologetic religious defense definitely does not conform to scientific convention and is not within that realm. It is not science because it is strongly biased.

    When you make a statement like "there are very, very few who are honest enough to take this approach", tells me you have never done research. And if you have done scientific research and still believe this, prove it.

  • gray man Orem, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 11:31 a.m.

    JoeBlow said:
    "Correct. It is not much different up to that point. where it becomes different is that a scientist has to go where the evidence leads him. And it may lead him to acknowledge that the hypothesis is false."
    hah! yeah in the fantasy world! In the real world many so called scientists do everything for their pet theory, quite often regardless of the evidence. ie man made global warming.

    fkratz said:
    "Scientists use source data to prove or disprove a hypothesis. There must always be an open mindedness to new understanding and better data. Research is also scrutinized by peer review."
    if only that were true - peer review now days means nothing more than having a bunch of "scientists" who already agree with you - agree with you.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Aug. 2, 2012 11:20 a.m.

    "JoeBlow and Lagomorph makes the assumption that all LDS members ignore contradictory evidence."

    That is not what I believe. However, time and time again, the LDS are counseled that they should only read "faith-promoting" information.

    I will say that it appears to me that the LDS oftentimes discard the most logical conclusion in favor of one that fits the narrative.

    The faithful will use the historical words of their leaders at times, but discount them as words of "fallible man" when they are proven to be incorrect.

    Certainly you can point to certain "data points" that bolster the religious claims. But from a scientific standpoint, they are weak at best. And, we all know that it is very difficult to prove a negative.

    But, at the end of the day, there is virtually no non-LDS scientists or historians who hold the BOM to be an historical account of history.

    Doesn't make it false, but one would logically think that there would be evidence of the great civilizations and great battles that were detailed in the BOM.

    And, that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Aug. 2, 2012 11:19 a.m.

    Apologists are like hot air balloons, they are sometime entertaining, but they are just a bunch of hot air trying to make themselves look pretty and important while convince others of their exclusive conduit to their imagined gods.

  • Abeille West Haven, Utah
    Aug. 2, 2012 10:51 a.m.

    JoeBlow, fkratz, Lagomorph, LValfre -

    Interesting. In your responses, each one of you show your bias, ignoring 'data points' that go contrary to your individual perceptions and beliefs. Strangely enough, this is also part of the scientific method. An hypothesis is formulated, some type of testing occurs, and results occur. What should happen next is an unbiased approach where the results either strengthen or refute the original hypothesis. However, there are very, very few who are honest enough to take this approach. JoeBlow and Lagomorph makes the assumption that all LDS members ignore contradictory evidence. That is not true. Many of us have researched it and find our beliefs remain intact...and most often our testimonies strengthened. This goes against your hypothesis, so this data point must be discarded by you - right? fkratz believes Dr. Peterson is discounting opposing opinions and people. However, two intelligent people can have opposing views. That does not discount a person. This goes against your hypothesis - and you ignore it. LValfe ignores DNA tests which HAVE found Hebrew DNA in Native Americans, but misses the fact that no DNA study with Hebrew or Asian DNA proves anything about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 10:11 a.m.

    Re: Mormon Apologetics VS Christian Apologetics.

    *Peterson likes to cite 1 Peter 3:15, in which Peter says believers should "… be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you."

    He misses the subject of 1 Peter 3:15NLT, Instead, you must worship “Christ as Lord of your life”. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
    Example,
    That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus(Phil 1:6)

    *Barney: second, defending the gospel (euangelion,2098)Good news of Christ, not Mormonism) against attacks;Jude 1:3….ye should earnestly Contend(1864, epagōnizomai,agonize) for the faith which was Once Delivered unto the saints. The truth has finality and not subject to change. Example,
    JS,” In the very beginning the bible shows there is a plurality of Gods. Beyond the power of refutation”.(Hof C v. 6 p.476)Wrong,
    Genesis 1:1 Septuagint, In the beginning God (*o Theos, Grk. 2316). Clearly God, singular. *Nominative singular article.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    Aug. 2, 2012 9:31 a.m.

    This is why I don't buy into any LDS groups, BYU studies, or any other LDS academia. It's usually biased and skewed.

    Native American's are of Asian descent .... random comment but unbiased DNA evidence leads to this. This wasn't an anti-LDS study, it was just a study that didn't support LDS beliefs.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 8:52 a.m.

    Article, quoting Jeffrey: "In apologetics, you start with a position and look for evidence to support it."

    (Echoing JoeBlow) That's the problem. As one who avocationally follows the creation/evolution debate, I see this a lot. Instead of starting with a neutral null hypothesis, apologetics starts with a preconceived outcome. This leads to cherry picking the data. That data point doesn't fit the model? No problem, just discard it-- the model is known to be true, so contradictory data are flukes or statistical noise.

  • fkratz Portland, OR
    Aug. 2, 2012 8:48 a.m.

    Dr. Peterson, I've read several of your articles published on the Maxwell Institute site. While you defend your positions with great skill, you also attempt to discredit not only the ideas to which you are opposed, but those that are offering them. The basis of your argument begins with the belief that your position is correct, so you're not searching for answers, your defending your basis. That is not the scientific method or anything like it.

    Scientists use source data to prove or disprove a hypothesis. There must always be an open mindedness to new understanding and better data. Research is also scrutinized by peer review. Sorry, but this is nothing like the apologetic work I've read from the Maxwell Institute.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Aug. 2, 2012 6:52 a.m.

    "A scientist starts out with a hypothesis and then looks for evidence to see if the hypothesis is accurate," he said. "That's not all that much different from what we do as apologists."

    Correct. It is not much different up to that point. where it becomes different is that a scientist has to go where the evidence leads him. And it may lead him to acknowledge that the hypothesis is false.

    For the LDS, contradictory evidence must be explained away. And sometimes those explanations are just too much of a stretch. Why even look at evidence if your mind is already made up?

    "The ideal solution is for people to just be so strong in their belief that they don't even worry about what others think or say,"

    The ideal solution for who? Wouldn't it be more prudent to gather as much information as one can and make an informed, rational decision?