Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: What critics don't understand about testimony

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  • The Milk Beast Herriman, UT
    April 1, 2011 1:47 p.m.



  • JM Lehi, UT
    April 1, 2011 11:29 a.m.

    We all know, inside, good from evil, light from dark.

    Herein is mans agency. StudyDC93 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence,the light of truth, was not created or made... (fall because truth) is plainly manifest...they receive not the light.

    Peter knew, not by Lazarus, or flesh and blood.

    I know, by light and truth, recognizing His voice, which also revealed unlikely future details.

    We MUST discern.

    We truthfully commune in spirit, mind and heart ("as a man thinketh in his heart" Prov23sharonna).

    God's truth and reason is plain: pure love, light, intelligence, above anything earthly, and backed by freeing evidence.
    We know Him, and are truth.

    Mans reason is fallible.
    Steve Hawking seems amused that, as he discredits Big Banging Singularities, traditional Christians again busily conform theology and creeds to outdated science.

    Vanka etc, offer Agnostic fairies, without evidence.

    @BrokenclayDuet13, philosophers gods are "gods others" not "JHVH Gods".

    @Magajuwin: Your support of JSmith is admirable.
    The BoM reports cycles of ascension and degeneration for ALL: for gentile, Israelite, and Lamanite human sacrifice is equally degenerate etc.

    As Israelites, Lamanites are chosen.

    Anciently, skin referred to religiosity. All Lehites were probably brown in our terms.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    March 31, 2011 6:17 p.m.

    @Joggle 12:46

    Thanks for your opinion. I appreciate the fact that you didn't call me dillusional or brain damaged. The DN probably wouldn't have posted your comment if you had anyway. :0)

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2011 5:08 p.m.

    "Can they explain the miraculous nature of the BoM, PoGP, DC etc? Never. All must admit these are from God or Satan (thus the Atheists will get little attention tw, unless they confront previous). "

    Well if it's someone who doesn't believe in God they can probably pick a third option which is a sort of spiritual fanfiction. I mean, I don't believe in the Book of Mormon (which kind of explains why I'm an inactive LDS member) but I don't believe it's from Satan either. Even if it's not actually scripture there's still some good lessons in it and I'm not going to believe that well-meaning (at least I would assume Joseph Smith was sincere in his belief) individuals are driven by Satan. I don't believe God cares too much about what Christian (since LDS is obviously Christian) denomination one belongs to, or even if you are Christian. I think he cares more about what sort of person one is.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 31, 2011 3:46 p.m.

    Magaju win - history is filled with people who feel the need to feel superior to others, either through race, ethic origin, religion, sex, weight, hair color, height, grades in school or lack there of, finances, and even political party. It is just a fact of life. Some people think they are better than others because they are thinner, or deem themselves better looking, or to be Gods chosen people. Fact is, most of these have next to no basis in reality what so ever, particularly the latter group.

    You just need to blow those people off, let them thrive in their feelings of self proclaim superiority because they were born in a particular religion, color or ethnic background. They are the ones with the issues.... not you... unless you let them make it at issue.

    People have been stupid throughout the ages for a vast array of reasons.... don't perpetuate them.

  • ? Fort Knox, KY
    March 31, 2011 1:48 p.m.

    What's it going to take to bring peace, to stop calling each other liars, and to help us become one people?

  • Magaju win Scottsbluff, neb
    March 31, 2011 9:13 a.m.

    Being called a devolved and degenerate race is offensive to a people that live by a faith in a great being, honesty, love one another and abhor those who abuse women and children. Live a life in harmony with mother earth. Take only what you need. Thank the animals and life around you for what you have. If this is what you call it, I am sorry for you.

    Is civilized to push and fight for what you want? Crush those below. Stealing, taking and say those who have a skin color are evil and need your influence because your god is better and follow a book that says we are evil because we lost something. hmm.

    You can have your so called BoM history. I want no part of lies, fairly tails, dishonesty that is said to be good while our way of life is evil. Since when is God evil and evil good? Hate is hate no matter how you sugar coat it. I will no longer waste my breath on those who cannot see, hear or puff themselves up.

    Deseret does not moderate offensive posts from the truth. Why?

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    March 31, 2011 7:56 a.m.

    Through the process of evolution man kind has developed an istictive intuition, and that it seems is what many are defining as promptings of the holy ghost and a source for a testimony. Some people are more intuitive than others, some are better at calculating guesses of risk and reward.

  • ? Fort Knox, KY
    March 31, 2011 7:44 a.m.

    What is to be understood by folks like Dana Olson and William Traxel who write about Prince Madoc and White Indians or Welsh settlers before Columbus came to America? What about things written by Frank Joseph with his books about things being discovered about lost kingdoms, histories, and advanced civilizations in prehistoric America? What about David Childress with his writings about lost cities of North and Central America? Amazon offers a handful of other books related to similar things these others have written about. What are we to understand by them and could these offer any insights related to the Book of Mormon? Seems to be many things are being discovered and coming forward. If any of these things relate to the Book of Mormon, how will anyone know it?

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    March 31, 2011 12:46 a.m.


    I'm a non-believer in the standard definition of God. I only can accept the pantheist definition. I have similiar examples of what you describe and have many times in my life been prompted to follow, or not follow, a course of action which I know for a fact came from my own mind. No offense, but your experience proves nothing to anybody, but yourself....and perhaps those who believe the as usual it isn't evidence. Just because you interpret it as being the Holy Ghost....doesn't mean it is! I'm just as certain about my promptings as you are about yours. I control my own mind and thinking, contemplating, and making promptings. I don't need a supernatural spirit...divine being....or whatever to do my thinking for me. And....of course...there's also coincidence. I've emailed friends before and had them say something similiar to what you describe. If testimony is what I've heard described here and through other sources.....than it is no more than translating normal and natural events and thoughts into something they aren't, but want to my opinion.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    March 30, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    @sfbayutes 11:28

    Your comment is 100% correct. As a Latter-day Saint, it would be foolish of me to base my testimony exclusively on feelings. I get good feelings from certain songs or TV programs, but a testimony goes even deeper. It comes from living my life day to day and recognizing the many times when the spirit speaks to me.

    The Holy Ghost does whisper truth, but this is done in many different ways. Many times in my life I've been prompted to follow, or not follow, a course of action which I know for a fact did not come from my own mind.

    Example, I remember recently getting prompted to e-mail a friend of mine. At first I thought, "I'm too tired," but then the prompting came even stronger, so I e-mailed her. I then decided to e-mail four or five other friends.

    A day or so later, one of my other friends whom I e-mailed sent me back a message, basically saying, "I was feeling so down and your e-mail was a blessing."

    That's one of many moments that helps stengthen my testimony of the Holy Ghost.

  • ? Fort Knox, KY
    March 30, 2011 8:33 a.m.

    Magaju win: How does the church and the Book of Mormon take away from your identity? Are not all people God's children? Are we not all one family? Does not the earth belong to God? You might believe God brought your fathers to this land, what makes you think God didn't bring my fathers here, too? If all people are the children of God, wouldn't that make our fathers brothers? What needs to happen so that there is peace among all who come here?

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    March 30, 2011 1:44 a.m.

    @Pickle Juice, The Key to a BCS

    You said, "...advice often given in church for those that are struggling with their testimony is to rely on others testimonies as you develop your own."

    I've been LDS my whole life and I would honestly say, if anyone said this to me I would cringe. We can strengthen each other's testimonies through sharing experiences and feelings, but ultimately, it's your own testimony, not someone else's, that will get your through life's challenges.

    As for the "staunch member" you described, I have no doubt he once had a very strong testimony. I won't go into why he lost it since I don't know him, but if any LDS person were to say, "He probably never had a testimony to begin with," this is a nonsense comment.

    Those people need to look at men such as Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon and even more recently George P. Lee.

    A strong testimony can be lost, although it's usually over time. Like the chicken you put in hot water it jumps right out. Instead, you turn up the eat slowly and eventually the chicken gets cooked.

  • sfbayutes Los Gatos, CA
    March 29, 2011 11:28 p.m.

    zero_limits_33 stated very well (on the first comment page for this article) the issues related to relying on conviction alone.

    To expand with a hypothetical - if you have 3 people in a room invested in 3 different belief systems and none have significant proof beyond their individual convictions then how does an independent observer differentiate the truth (if it even exists)?

    One would be tempted to rely on the strength of each candidate's conviction, since there is no other distinction. One of three candidates may offer the ultimate conviction - the willingness to give up their life (and/or take lives) to prove their belief. Such conclusions have led to incalculable suffering throughout human history, yet such is the only conclusion if this type of specious basis for belief are pushed to their limits.

    Thus, we must rely on rationality. As Carl Sagan once stated: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." The burden must be on those who believe to prove to others, with reasoning, why they are right. Emotions and feelings are not sufficient for any court, and certainly should not be sufficient for the questions religion deems to answer.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    March 29, 2011 10:14 p.m.

    @ Michael_M: "the truth's" views on race are personal and are not representative of the Church. The Book of Mormon (one of the four most official sources for doctrine) teaches that the Lord "inviteth...all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile" (2 Ne. 26:33).

    I'm not sure that "the truth" meant what is connoted by the words "devolution" or "devolved," but I can see why they would be taken as offensive.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    March 29, 2011 10:10 p.m.

    Much "unmitigated nonsense" can be justified and vehemently defended under the guise of "I speak with God and God says..." For example, it's not fun to try to explain to people that are homosexual why they can't get married. The justification is as follows: "God says you guys can't get married, therefore the church says you can't get married, therefore I believe you can't get married." I can only imagine what it was like when blacks couldn't hold the priesthood. Church members now have to defend why a testimony isn't just some "feeling" and it isn't indigestion either. And yes it can be lost at the drop of a hat, but yes "I know it's true." Again, the perspective from the outside looking in makes some things seem like "unmitigated nonsense."

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    March 29, 2011 8:09 p.m.

    @the truth

    Your ideas are reminiscent of early 16th century Dominican monks before the 1537 Papal Bull Sublimus dei was issued. This is the 21st century. You cannot candy coat words of devolved or degenerate with religion while you are directing them towards another race, no matter how hard you try. Mormonism is a 19th century belief that is outdated on this subject. Your words are offensive.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    March 29, 2011 7:35 p.m.

    To Jax: I would like to address some of the "few questions [you] can't...get an answer to.

    You're "told that Mormons can tell not only the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon through spiritual discernment, but also the truthfulness of other books like the Book of Abraham, Book of Moses, etc." You wonder if "this works with all books."

    First, you must understand that God speaks to all His children, not just Mormons.

    Second, you must understand that God possesses His own will. He is not like a vending machine that feeds you what you want when you put a coin in.

    "If [you] read [me] a series of stories... could [I] tell [you] which of the stories are literal histories and which are simply fictional stories?"

    I could probably do as well as you could if the pattern was reversed. I would use my learning rather than prayer.

    "Let's say you pray and ask God if the books are true, would the spiritual feeling change between an inspiring fictional book and an inspiring non-fictional book?"

    True in what sense?

    "Is this spiritual confirmation limited to only Mormon books?"


  • the truth Holladay, UT
    March 29, 2011 7:19 p.m.

    RE: Magaju win

    according to the BOM, the promised land is only for those who keep God's comandments and live his Gospel,

    All others will lose their entitlement to the promsed land.

    Maybe that explains why certain people have "lost" their land here.

    even the nephites lsot their land ans ultimately destroyed because of thier wickedness.

    But anything taken can be restored, through repentance and returning to God's ways.

    The scriptures have certainly born true on this point for th promised land.

    When people speak of "devloving" it does NOT mean they have become less human, they have just degenerated over time in how they live, they become living in a more primative or decadent or less enlighted state.

    When yopu move away in from civilzation and light and knoweldge in distance and/or time, it just waht happens.

    Nothing that can't be changed, but when you lose God's light there is only one direction you can go.

    You restore the light you restore the path back to enlightment.

    But there are things you must do to maintain your claim to the promised land.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    March 29, 2011 5:11 p.m.

    Bill in Nebraska said, The BoM, Abraham and Moses along with the JST, I know they are true.
    (Moses 7: 8, & JST Genesis 7:10) And there was a blackness came upon all the children of Cainan, that they were despised among all people Not found in the KJV, The Greek Septuagint (The Apostles Bible,250 B.C)
    In (Acts 8:27,36-38)is the story of a Ethiopian,(black)being baptized.eace All know that without God that there would be no laws of nature.
    MPeace All know that without God that there would be no laws of nature.
    The difficulty with gods (Mormonism) instead of God, is that unlimited gods makes no sense because you have no point of reference for Absolutes. Even the philosophers Plato and J.P.Sarte understood this that the finite makes no sense without the infinite(Aseity).

  • Cephas The Wilds of, NH
    March 29, 2011 4:40 p.m.

    Peter testified that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God" after it was revealed to him of the Father. Later, he went with Christ to the Mount of Transfiguration and witnessed miraculous events.

    Peter's testimony before the Transfiguration was likely different than afterward. But both were still testimonies. Similarly, we may enjoy various levels of testimony based on our individual experiences. One level of experience does not negate the value of the other.

    Can good men with direct spiritual knowledge fall? Unless we assume the Lord would choose someone unrighteous or would set him up for failure - then Judas did. But his actions (theft may have started things) brought him to a point where he betrayed his testimony, his Lord, and his friend.

    Despite whatever level of testimony we may have we must guard ourselves from evil influences that could give Satan a lever into our lives.

    From 2nd Peter, 3:

    Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

    But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

  • Faithinfacts Brisbane, QLD
    March 29, 2011 4:34 p.m.

    A few assumptions in this article;

    1. Ex-Mormons have never felt what is described as a "burning in the bosom".
    2. The "burning in the bosom" feeling ALWAYS confirms the truthfulness of the church.
    3. A lack of any confirmation by "burning in the bosom" as to the truthfulness of the church is a sign the seeker is at fault somehow and needs to modify their life and keep asking until they get the 'right' answer. Feeling bad about church doctrine is never the 'right' answer to a question of its truthfulness, while a burning bosom ALWAYS confirms the doctrine is correct and good. This is historically problematic and demonstrably false when you study church history.

    Also, while the D&C teaches to search and study, the contemporary church frowns on using ANY sources for discussion or teaching other than those correlated manuals, even if those sources are church documents and are factual. President Packer- "Some things that are true are not very useful."

  • Magaju win Scottsbluff, neb
    March 29, 2011 2:39 p.m.

    @ chris B.
    because whites had a fear of us from the beginning, they have force religion The BoM does no different. saying we are heathens, because of our skin color. we are evil because we have fallen and only way to be pure is to join. hmmm. Or marry your own kind or never marry beneath your status.
    but since you clearly have no truth to what we really believe in I can see the fear you have.
    So religion after religion has tried to tell us our evil ways. Hmmm No when the leaders live in their ivory towers and do not allow anyone to contact them and they build needless malls, when our cheifs are always the poorest because the help the poor. No I see that gold has clouded their hearts and blinded their eyes. which the BofM said would happen. So what is truth? this is what I fight against. The liars and decievers and soothe sayers.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    March 29, 2011 2:30 p.m.

    As a non-believer it gives you the prespective to think "this really doesn't make sense" or "is this really the way God would operate things?" Then you don't have to justify with feelings anything that would normaly seem wrong. But when you really do believe a thing then the thinking really is done. Then all your efforts go to trying to creatively explain away things that don't add up.

    Honestly, life as a believer is pretty good. Turns out life as a non-believer is not too shabby either. I truely think you can find happiness doing either.

  • Magaju win Scottsbluff, neb
    March 29, 2011 1:53 p.m.

    @ bill in Nebraska,
    you are in great err. Since when did I say I hated the LDS. No I have a distain for those who say my people are de-evolved and print lies to promote a false idea and have not kept to the truth. Where were you when last week when "the truth" said my people are de-evolved? So you are upset at me yet you ignore personal attacks on a people who skin will never turn white. There is no scientific proof that we are de-evolved, degenerate or our skin turn white. Only lies by those who do not know us. There is no proof of the BoM anywhere in the Americas, but I still beleive in some of the words that it offers. you have lacked an understanding of what has happened to me or my people even when we try to tell you about it. It is not so, you say considering it does not happen to you. No I abhor Liars, and decievers nothing less. You have failed to see that, I am sorry for you. I have used nothing but BoM Scriptures and bible as well to prove my point.

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    March 29, 2011 1:43 p.m.

    Now I'm really confused. So reading and praying about a book to find out through spiritual discernment if it's true or not is considered seeking a sign? That's exactly what the Mormon missionaries told me I was supposed to do with the Book of Mormon. (Maybe that's why I didn't receive the spiritual answer they told me I would.) I've seen several people here say the same thing. Bill, I think even you have said that on here before.

    Also, you didn't answer me, but it sounds like you are suggesting that your knowledge of true books is in fact limited to Mormon books. Is that right?

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    March 29, 2011 12:19 p.m.

    Jax your last comment is looking for a sign. Try it yourself to see if it works before you ask someone else. Broken heart and a contrite spirit is all that is required. You also must ponder it out in your own mind and then ask. There are many books and movies that make me feel good. So what, that is what they are there fore. They don't have to be truthfull or totally correct. It matters what and how their intended audience feels of the books. The Book of Mormon, Abraham and Moses along with the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible as modern day revelation. I know they are true but it is up to you to find out for yourself.

    To Magaju win: You hatred and disdain for anything of the LDS shines through. Nothing I say or any member is going to change your mind until you get rid of your own hate and prejudice. You can't claim racism until you abolish your own.

    Testimonies are born everyday and some lost everyday. Every item in and of itself will not destroy a testimony but failure to correct them will.

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    March 29, 2011 11:35 a.m.

    A few questions I can't ever seem to get an answer to: I'm told that Mormons can tell not only the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon through spiritual discernment, but also the truthfulness of other books like the Book of Abraham, Book of Moses, etc. My question is whether this works with all books. For example, if I read you a series of stories, each inspiring and uplifting, the kind of stories that make you feel close to God and spiritual and fuzzy inside, could you tell me which of the stories are literal histories and which are simply fictional stories? Let's say you pray and ask God if the books are true, would the spiritual feeling change between an inspiring fictional book and an inspiring non-fictional book? Is this spiritual confirmation limited to only Mormon books?

  • Alberta Reader magrath, ab
    March 29, 2011 11:03 a.m.

    Having served in a position in the church that had me talk and visit with those with memberships but not coming out almost invariably they said "I still know the church is true" but it is not for me now I know where the door is if I want to come back.
    So there can be two kinds of testimonies one based with action and faith and one testimony with no action and a current lack of action

    Kind of like we all know smoking is bad for us even those that smoke and we all know we should be healthier but 2/3 of us are overweight.
    There is a big distinction between knowing something and actually doing
    something about it.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    March 29, 2011 10:41 a.m.

    Whether we're talking about losing ones testimony or apostasy from the church, it's basically the same: we decrease having the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. And, to a degree, we may lose influence from the Light of Christ. This means that anything we do to cause the Spirit (Holy Ghost or Light of Christ) to withdraw from us causes us to separate ourselves from God. Some people will interpret this in the context of testimony. Others in the context of activity in the Church.

    Pickle Juice gave the example of a High Councilor who in his earlier life had a strong testimony but in his later life left the church due to his study of church history. For what ever reason, that man caused the Spirit to withdraw from him, culminating in his leaving the church. His leaving the church does not mean that man never had a testimony, but it does mean that in his later life he did things that caused the Spirit to withdraw from him.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    March 29, 2011 10:10 a.m.

    I'll use my last comment to help Jax answer Chris B.:

    Teachings of The Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith/Chapter 27: Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy.

    He then remarked that any man, any elder in this Church and kingdom, who pursued a course whereby he would ignore or, in other words, refuse to obey any known law or commandment or dutywhenever a man did this, neglected any duty God required at his hand in attending meetings, filling missions, or obeying counsel, he laid a foundation to lead him to apostasy and this was the reason those men had fallen. They had misused the priesthood sealed upon their heads. They had neglected to magnify their calling as apostles, as elders. They had used that priesthood to attempt to build themselves up and to perform some other work besides the building up of the kingdom of God.

    This quote doesn't enumerate every one of Pick Juice's examples by name, but according to the context it encapsulates encapsulates everything.

  • Pickle Juice, The Key to a BCS Clinton, UT
    March 29, 2011 9:45 a.m.


    Go to LDS dot org and search for "how a test. is lost". Enjoy.

    Chris, advice often given in church for those that are struggling with their testimony is to rely on others testimonies as you develop your own.

    Growing up in the Church I knew a very staunch member. He was a stake high councilman with a strong testimony that he shared often. He would bear his testimony at most every Fast & Testimony meeting using the typical phrases such as 'I know this church is true' and 'I have a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon'. Some years later he left the church over historical issues of the church that he felt were too serious to ignore. So what are we to say about his former testimony of the church?

    Many would say he perhaps never had a bona-fid testimony from the Holy Ghost. If that's the case, then how can we trust anyone else's testimony? How do we know that all those people that bear their testimonies every week aren't just like this righteous high councilman that only 'thought' he had a testimony?

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    March 29, 2011 9:37 a.m.

    Chris, quick google search found this:

    Chapter 7: Personal Testimony, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, (2006),6978

    "Testimony meetings are some of the best meetings in the [Church] in the whole month, if you have the spirit. If you are bored at a testimony meeting, there is something the matter with you, and not the other people. You can get up and bear your testimony and you think it is the best meeting in the month; but if you sit there and count the grammatical errors and laugh at the man who cant speak very well, youll be bored. Dont forget it! You have to fight for a testimony. You have to keep fighting!

    The Lord says in the 60th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, With some I am not well pleased for they will not open their mouths (D&C 60:2). What does he mean? He says that if they do not use it, they will lose what he has given them. They lose their spirit. They lose their testimony. And this priceless thing that you have can slip right out of your life."

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    March 29, 2011 9:22 a.m.

    Mr. Magaju win: Like the Jews have ask the Mormon church to quit baptising their dead and the church has honored their request; perhaps if you request the Mormon church to give you back your idenity they will honor your request. Good luck.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    March 29, 2011 9:13 a.m.

    Magaju win | 10:52 p.m. March 28, 2011
    Scottsbluff, Neb
    "Truth is a reality that is based on true science"

    Now there is an interesting tautology. Your post was disjointed enough as it was, but this is not how truth is defined.

    And, who is trying to 'force' religion on anyone?

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    March 29, 2011 9:05 a.m.

    Pickle Juice, The Key to a BCS | 8:58 a.m. March 28, 2011
    Clinton, UT
    You wrote: "Here is a short list of the many ways you can lose the divine witness from a supreme being:"

    -skipping a few Sundays at church
    -skipping a tithing payment
    -reading too much unflattering history of the Church
    -not reading your scriptures
    -watching an "R" rated movie
    -drinking coffee or tea
    -not attending the temple regularly
    -not bearing your testimony regularly

    Would you mind, for my edification, citing the source of these items? I am particularly interested in the source for "R" rated movies, not bearing your testimony regularly and swearing. And please, a bit more ingenuity than simply "I heard a bishop/stake president/someone else say". Chapter and verse from the doctrines of the church would be appreciated, and give some strength to your claims.

  • MPeace Provo, Utah
    March 29, 2011 5:24 a.m.

    I find this reference in one of the comments "According to Church teachings, it can be lost at the drop of a hat." I think Church Teachings have been misunderstood if this is the case.
    -skipping a few Sundays at church
    -skipping a tithing payment
    -reading too much unflattering history of the Church
    -not reading your scriptures
    -watching an "R" rated movie
    -drinking coffee or tea
    -not attending the temple regularly
    -not bearing your testimony regularly

    These things do not cause one to lose true solid testimony of the knowledge of the truth of the "Mormon Church" or, otherwise there is no need of repentance in Jesus Christ's Name afterward of doing these things, and no need of Christ as we are perfect, which is not "True". Mormons have forgiveness as the Church teaches, in Christ like everyone else. That is a part of ones' testimony, which is in Joseph Smith's and every other Prophet's Teachings.

    All know that without God that there would be no laws of nature, nor any laws of physics, which include gravity which holds us to this earth. A very solid proof. Therefore there is Heavenly Father,Christ,Prophets,and Host.

  • Magaju win Scottsbluff, neb
    March 28, 2011 10:52 p.m.

    When those who profuse lies and false information or when someone say my people are de evolved. It makes me wonder who is really the de-evolved ones are. those who try to change the words of christ or the words of Joseph Smith himself. The ones that make up lies or the ones that show truth for what it really is. Truth is a reality that is based on true science, and not false ones that is made up to prove a false theory because they cannot come to grips with the truth and shun it. De-evloved ones are those that lie, cheat, steal try to force a religion on a people and say their skin color makes the evil and lost. Or the people who for centurys have lived the way of the great spirit who abhor liars,cheats and respect their woman and children and helps the poor and accept all for who they are. No I cannot accept that the white world is much better. What has it given us? Taken our lands and given us nothing but lies. Than I would rather be the critic that abhors evil.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    March 28, 2011 9:01 p.m.

    3rd Try:

    We can see the lack of sound logic in these arguments by a simple analogous argument:

    PremiseA: There is one and only one Bohemian Fairy who communicates "truth" to mankind.

    PremiseB: The Bohemian Fairy will manifest the truth of its existence (and the "truth" of Vanka's Social Club - send money) to all those who ask with sincere intent and adequate faith in the Fairy.

    PremiseC: Those who are sinful, including those who are inadequately humble or
    lack faith, cannot hear the Fairy's voice and hence cannot experience, or properly interpret, the spiritual impressions or experiences needed to "know".

    Conclusion: Therefore, anyone who does not, after reading about Vanka's Social Club, and "praying" to the Fairy about it as instructed, receive confirmation from the Fairy that it is His club and His word etc., either did not have sincere intent when asking or is subject to sin of some kind that prevents him from knowing the "truth".

    All the "personal experience" in the universe will still not infuse such simplistic, circular restatements of premises with sound logic and reason. They are not reason, and are, in fact, deceptive pseudo-logic pawned off as "faith".

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    March 28, 2011 7:50 p.m.

    What's the best part of this article? This phrase: "unmitigated nonsense."

  • mrfalcon05 Eagle Mountain, UT
    March 28, 2011 7:20 p.m.

    Mr. Ash's argument is exactly part of the problem. The problem being that he, as a mormon apologist (and one involved with FAIR, nonetheless) refuses to even try to understand the position that "critics" are coming from. He instead insists on grouping them into a generalized group and condemning them for their lack of understanding (collectively).

    What about those of us who are mormon, have had a "testimony" before (or tried), and have not had the experience you have had Mr. Ash? Calling the whole group "critics" is the same as those who dismiss everyone who disagrees with them as "antis," and then mock them accordingly.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    March 28, 2011 7:19 p.m.


    I don't reject possibilities nor do I accept possibilities as the ultimate and certain answer to all lifes's mysteries and questions. Most often there are many conflicting possibilities as well as conflicting facts. I refuse to stop short and accept that old/ancient knowledge, dubious experiences, or_that infallible humans already have certain answers to everything. I also reject that all new knowledge has ALL the answers either. I cannot either intellectually or emotionally suspend what I intellectually think is the more reasonable and supported choice based on extensive consideration of much information and evidence both pro and con.

    Actually....there isn't a scientific explanation for everything. In turn that makes God only one POSSIBLE explanation. However, at least in the sense of giving human characteristics to an abstract idea, such as the Christian-type God....the evidence in comparison to science is very lacking. There can just as well be a natural/scientific explanation without any need for an anthropomorphisized God. The projections of the human intellect may indeed originate false gods or communication. Translating our own thoughts and emotions as communication with the divine begs the question: how do you prove it's not your_own_thoughts?

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    March 28, 2011 6:36 p.m.

    @ Mormon in Michigan: Maybe I'm tired or something, but I can't see anything wrong with my previous post.

    I meant to say that, when I was much younger, I flirted with, then rejected atheism and agnosticism. I rejected both of them for the same reason that some people today are telling me I should reject my belief--that it is not rational. To me, both atheism and agnosticism are irrational and illogical; Mormonism is both rational and logical.

    I don't mean to suggest that I believe entirely on the non-spiritual side of reasoning and logic; I believe that spirituality, reasoning, and logic can be fully integrated, and my testimony is based largely on that premise.

    If there is a hidden misprint or joke in what I wrote (apart from the intentional irony), let me know. I don't see it.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    March 28, 2011 5:55 p.m.

    Robert D. Hales: How You Can Know, The New Era Aug 2002
    1) He tells of President McKays experience gaining a testimony, described as an emotion.

    Gospel Principles and Doctrine: Lesson 5
    1) A testimony does not come from our reasoning powers alone. President Spencer W. Kimball said that testimonies are feelings, not merely the accumulation of facts.
    2) This lesson also tells the story of Heinrich Stigler, who claims to have seen a light and voice affirming the Word of Wisdom.

    M. Russell Ballard: Pure Testimony, October 2004 Conference
    1) Quotes Alma 32, which describes feeling the swelling motions of a good seed within your breast.
    2) Also includes anecdotal missionary story where a man felt impressed to share the gospel, and the recipient had a distinct feeling throughout his entire body, that the message was true.

    Young Women Manual: Lesson 26
    1) A testimony comes to different people in different ways but is often described as a burning feeling in our hearts or enlightenment in our minds.
    2)When I was done I had a warm, special feeling inside. My testimony had grown; I could feel it..."

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    March 28, 2011 5:51 p.m.

    From Mr. Ash:
    Undeniable secular evidences for Joseph Smiths prophetic status would frustrate the necessity of agency and would still likely not change the hearts of those who adamantly reject the Prophet.
    Seeing as how despite all of his efforts, Mr. Ash has not even come close to presenting undeniable secular evidences, I wonder what the rational basis for this observation is? He then goes on to suggest that despite the critics assertion a testimony is more than that. I went onto the Churchs website (LDS), and using the search function typed testimony. Below is a list of references to all articles by Apostles or Prophets or Church Manuals in an ordinal search, which describe the experience of gaining a testimony:

    Robert D Hales: The Importance of Receiving a Personal Testimony, October 1994 Conference
    1) Our testimony is true north on a spiritual compass. It is a moving force that cannot be seen but can truly be felt. It is a burning within that tells us what is right. It is when your heart tells you things your mind doesnt know.

  • Mormon in Michigan Detroit, MI
    March 28, 2011 5:29 p.m.


    I want you to read your last post out loud to yourself. I promise that you will feel a little silly for writing it.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    March 28, 2011 5:22 p.m.

    Bill in Nebraska said, She started her prayer as she did so she stated she just stopped midway, opened her eyes and said, "I don't need confirmation[yes you do], I already know it is true[presupposition],felt the light of Christ, the peace and comfort of the Holy Ghost. I did the same thing but the Holy Spirit told me read the Bible which told me the Mormon church was false.

    Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see. T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved.
    Or,For it is by grace you are saved and this not from yourselves it is the gift of God not by work so no one can boast For we are Gods workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2: 8-10) or true Biblical regeneration

  • DesertRat Gilbert, AZ
    March 28, 2011 5:15 p.m.

    Great article which has spurred (mostly) a thoughtful discussion. Reminds me of philosophy classes where endless discussions about what is "truth" prove only that one can intellectually prove or disprove about any idea or concept. One thing is for sure, those who refuse to even consider that there may be realities beyond those perceived through our physical senses (the Holy Ghost) are truly the close-minded ones in this debate.

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    March 28, 2011 4:59 p.m.

    "Believers tend to seek or interpret evidence favorable to their already existing beliefs, and to ignore or reinterpret evidence unfavorable to already existing beliefs."

    Do not non-believers interpret evidedence favorable to their already existing non-belief? If you start from the assumption that a religion is complete nonsense, does this not influence how you interpret evidence? Of course a believer will interpret evidence favorably, because they are beginning from an assumption that their beliefs have merit, as evidence by very real experiences. What if the tables are turned? Try asking a scientist, who believes with all of their heart in man-made global warming, to set aside that belief and consider evidence unfavorable to that existing belief. They will ignore or reinterpret that unfavorable evidence just as quickly as the believer in your scenario.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    March 28, 2011 4:49 p.m.

    This was an excellent article.

    I have been thinking again about the difference in my life now that I have a testimony and try to exercise faith as opposed to the time when I was either a complete non-believer or just a serious doubter. One of the reasons I rejected atheism as invalid is because it struck me as profoundly irrational and illogical. Agnosticism, I came to feel, was worse than atheism because it struck me as both irrational and cowardly.

    Now, irony of ironies, I find that there are people who tell me that my belief is irrational and illogical. I am told that I must not accept the Holy Ghost as valid evidence of any sort of truth, that there is some magical sort of science out there that proves everything unequivocally, and that I must believe in the people that do the experiments, or I will somehow be proven to be a fool, a dupe, and a fanatic.

    I'm sorry, but there is no logical, rational explanation for my personal encounters with the Holy Ghost but that I have had an actual encounter with the Holy Ghost. There is really no other possibility.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    March 28, 2011 4:48 p.m.


    That is talking about false prophets. The problem is that WE do not state that Joseph Smith is a false prophet but a Prophet called of God. Prophets are not called by man. If you care to research Joseph Smith you will find that he never told his family about the First Vision until after the Church was organized and the Book of Mormon had come forth. The first time he mentioned any of his visitations was the Angel Moroni and then only to his father. Check it out and you will find that he related his vision only to a minister and then the presecution of a 14 year old boy began. Who called David, Abraham, Isaac, Moses and how were they called. They all had visions or were carried away in the Spirit. Prophets are not called in the same manner as other people are. You have basically stated that you don't believe in PROPHETS for today, therefore, you have demanded the Lord to prove it to you. You have the testimonies of hundreds on this board and in your life. What more do you need?

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    March 28, 2011 4:30 p.m.

    Mr. Ash falsely assumes that critics think there is no rational thought that factors into their spiritual testimonies. Many people confuse what they know with what they believe. Many reject what they know in favor of what they believe. In the field of reason LDS and other religions tend to be domain specific, which means they don't study or seek information outside of their immediate circle or culture. Believers tend to seek or interpret evidence favorable to their already existing beliefs, and to ignore or reinterpret evidence unfavorable to already existing beliefs. Mr. Ash again uses the typical tactic of blaming the person for rejection of the restored gospel on emotion or non-intellectual reasons rather than the fact that the source and the experiences logically and reasonably fail to hold up under intellectual scrutiny. I do consider that other people have good reasons for their beliefs and they can make reasonable sense of them to themselves, even if I do not share those beliefs or their sense of reason. When it comes to evaluating the reasons that people make certain choices, it is a common failing to make false assumptions based on lack of knowledge of the opposition!

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    March 28, 2011 4:09 p.m.

    "As people learn more about the world, many realize that experiences previously thought to have been caused by gods and spirits, are actually results of human psychological needs and desires."

    Why does it have to be one or the other? Could it be that we are just gradually learning more about how God operates? God is subject to natural law too. For example, the idea that there could be two-way communication between you and a being you call God, living somewhere out there in the Universe doesn't seem to have any scientific merit on the surface, but when you consider that we can already communicate with people across the globe or in space who we can't even see, through the use of computer chips made of essentially the same stuff as the human body and invisible electrical currents, does actual two-way communication through prayer really seem so far-fetched. Does the human brain not conduct electricity the same if not better than a computer chip? The fact that there is a scientific explanation for everything that God does does not make him less of a God.

  • Doctor Tucson, AZ
    March 28, 2011 3:57 p.m.

    Ash states the heart was thought to be the center of thought and intelligence and we are to ponder with our heart. Using thought and intelligence there is no evidence of the BOM. Does that make sense?

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    March 28, 2011 3:25 p.m.

    Feelings are a part of the decision making process in any endeavour of life whether that be joining a church, deciding on what to wear to the dance or deciding on what color of car to purchase. You will also use reason to make these decisions too - at least to decide whether to wear that cute little black strapless dress or that shoulder-covering red dress depending on the venue or to buy black versus that tan car since buying black when you live in Tucson may be hard to keep cooler.

    However, when joining a church, most notably, the LDS church, feelings are all that seems to matter - at least that is what I taught on my mission and was instructed to focus on by my MTC teachers, by General Authorities and by the mission president and mission leaders. In the end, all that matters with the LDS church is our feelings and evidence isn't important.

    When Mr Ash quotes from the D&C about Oliver Cowdrey, he needs to be clear that this was a revelation that Joseph Smith claimed to received from God which all of the D&C claims to be.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    March 28, 2011 2:44 p.m.

    RE: Vanka

    Your examination has too many lim limitations and too many built in assumptions.

    and therefore your conclusions fail.

    For instance, some may not recieve a confimation or the truthfulness of the BOM simply becuase they are not ready,

    or some may have recieved it but rejected it or didn't recognize it.

    and no one but the person who is praying and God can judge sincerity.

    So how do know someone claims of is sinceretly are true?,

    And some may be expecting some sort spiritua fireworks.

    But I can say for myself and perhaps for virtually all who have recieved a testimony of the BOM,

    that it was just a quiet calm assurance within you.

    I am glad that Ash pointed out HOW MUCH the church and it's leader empahasize searching out knowledge and truth wherever it can be found,

    the Glory of God is intelligence,

    But in our probative state Faith is a necessary component, because God can not be with us in our fallen state,

    and has has therefore has given us the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us to truth.

    Faith is is just the starting step, the first principle.

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    March 28, 2011 2:29 p.m.

    I am a critic of apologists. Is that the same as being an anti-mormon?

    Interesting how this article mentions brain surgery in Egypt. How many will now associate this with America's indigenous people's trepanning practices and conclude that it must be proof for the BofM? Here are some things to consider:

    A good article is "Cranial Surgery in Ancient Mesoamerica" by Dr. Vera Tiesler Blos. It was practiced mostly among Andean societies. The practice doesn't seem to fit as evidence for the geographical region that apologists propose for BofM lands.

    Now here is the clincher. Out of 120 prehistoric skulls found at one burial site in France dated to 6500 BC, 40 had trepanation holes. Ussher dated the time of Adam to about 4,000 B.C. D&C 77 gives a similar timeline for dealing with Adam. So how was it that Adam and Eve were in Missouri more than 2,000 years after brain surgery was performed by pre-Adamites in France?

    Don't let The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus become evidence for the BofM.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    March 28, 2011 1:47 p.m.

    Let us examine "faith" versus "reason" briefly.

    A reasoned analysis of Moroni's Challenge (and Ash's argument) is as follows:

    Premise1: There is one and only one God, who communicates "truth" to mankind.

    Premise2: Anyone who reads the BOM and prays to God with sincere intent will be told by God that the BOM is His word and that Smith translated it through the gift and power of God.

    Premise3: Those who are sinful, including those who are inadequately humble or
    lack faith, cannot hear God's voice and hence cannot experience, or properly
    interpret, the spiritual impressions or experiences needed to "know".

    Conclusion: Therefore, anyone who does not, after reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it as instructed, receive confirmation from God that it is His word etc., either did not have sincere intent when asking for Gods
    guidance or is subject to sin of some kind that prevents him from hearing God's voice.

    Note that this is not reason at all. The "conclusion" merely restates the premises in different words. This is a "circular" or "tautological" argument and is not a mixture of faith and reason: there is no reason in it.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    March 28, 2011 1:28 p.m.

    Bill, I will not question what your testimony does for you or the strength and insight it may give you. However, Ash's series of articles addresses the location of the BoM lands. He has promised us proof and evidence that the BoM occurred in central America. Your testimony and the testimony of others, aside from being a declaration of belief in the BoM, cannot be counted as proofs for anyone other than you.

    Judging from your posts, you are not an expert in any field of archaeology, let alone mesoamerican. If I remember right, your testimony is based on a powerful event that to you confirmed the BoM to be true. Feel free to share it when discussing religion. Archaeological discussions depend on artifacts in context with the culture and history of a region. So your testimony doesn't add to the conversation, whereas your questions and conclusions based on reasoning would.

    Because your testimony is based on your personal experience, I don't have to accept it as proof for the way I choose to believe. I also have experience with testimony and spiritual matters but believe differently. Both our testimonies are subjective. Neither are proof.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    March 28, 2011 1:25 p.m.

    Intelligent people can practice self-deception, which can lead to believing WITHOUT evidential certainty. Religious belief is a result of human desires, needs, and projections and these explain even the personal experiences of God more rationally than the conclusion that God really exists. We know that people have false, contridicting, and misleading experiences. These people are evident right here in the comments. Religious experiences are typically influenced by our subconscious. It is not necessary for a God/HolyGhost to exist in order to explain why people believe in one.

    Clearly the range of human experience gives rise to many contradictions. Not all experiences can be entirely true. We know that the evident facts are sometimes not quite so factual. We have all experienced things that actually did not happen. We have dreamt, imagined, and forgotten things leading us to conclusions and sternly felt beliefs in things that are not real. As people learn more about the world, many realize that experiences previously thought to have been caused by gods and spirits, are actually results of human psychological needs and desires. Our imagination and mind can quietly be abstracted into things we think are real, but are not.

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    March 28, 2011 1:02 p.m.

    "However, when it comes to challenging issues about the church, in my experience, Mormons regularly replace reason and rationale with spiritual feelings or emotions."

    But what I would argue is that you cannot separate spiritual feelings and emotions from reason and rationale. The evidence of feelings and emotions, accompanied by real experiences cannot be dismissed any more than reason and rationale. It's not that we outright dismiss reason and rationale when it conflicts with spiritual knowledge, it's just that we don't dismiss spiritual knowledge when presented with something that seems to conflict. Both of them are real evidence, and it's more of a matter of reconciling the two, instead of dismissing one in favor of the other.

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    March 28, 2011 12:58 p.m.

    Bill, JM:

    From what I can see, you have simply affirmed my contention THAT there are many spirits in the world. You have not explained HOW we can tell them apart. Of course the Spirit and a spirit cannot both simultaneously influence a person, but this doesn't explain how we know the difference between the two.

    I have given my answer previously on how to discern the difference-- how does the new revelation line up with previously received revelation? I will once again confront you with Deuteronomy 13:1-4. Perhaps the most clear distinction between orthodox Christianity and Mormonism is that only the former is monotheist. Monotheism is fundamental to the biblical faith; any deviation from this standard will reveal a false spirit.

    I'm not sure what this is about Christians denying the Son's incarnation. No orthodox Christians deny this. We would say that BEFORE the incarnation Jesus did not have a human body. The very teaching that Jesus was incarnated at a point in time presupposes that before that point in time he was not "in the flesh." If you wish to accurately understand the orthodox teaching on this matter, look up "hypostatic union."

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    March 28, 2011 12:49 p.m.

    I think my testimony is less based on feelings than it is on the knowledge that if I follow a commandment, the corresponding blessing or consequence results. It has happened far too many times and in such amazing ways to dismiss as just coincidence or me just seeing what I want to see. Of course the spiritual confirmation that accompanies these experiences goes a long way, but this is more than just feelings being experienced independently of any other evidence that speaks to my intellect. I have seen so many positive results from living the gospel, and so many miracles, that to deny the truthfullness of my religion would be anti-intellectual.

    It's not that I claim to know everything, or have an explanation for Book of Mormon geography, etc. It's just that there is a very real cause and effect thing going on, and a very real spiritual confirmation that accompanies it that can't be denied any more than solid archealogical evidence can be denied.
    Your spirit is very real. It's such a shame to go through life denying it, just because there is no tangible evidence to prove it. Don't miss out.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    March 28, 2011 12:19 p.m.

    Part II:

    Just a few years ago a sister in the Ward I lived in for a number of years told in Fast & Testimony meeting that she had never actually received any confirmation of the Book of Mormon. She wanted this confirmation so one night after her husband and children had gone to sleep she went into a different room in the house with her Book of Mormon. She knelt and pondered what she had to say, then started her prayer as she did so she stated she just stopped midway, opened her eyes and said, "I don't need confirmation, I already know it is true, felt the light of Christ, the peace and comfort of the Holy Ghost. Closed my prayer and went to bed." From that time forth I knew it was true.

    President Hinckley, President Lee and others have all stated that the spiritual witness that comes from the Holy Ghost can not be replaced with facts and figures. It isn't important where the Book of Mormon took place, only that IT DID. Every General Conference has a talk pertaining to the Book of Mormon, everyone of the Apostles testify to the BOM truthfulness.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    March 28, 2011 12:09 p.m.

    To the critics:

    As JM has stated brokenclay has been given the answers in the past. He just refuses to acknowledge what he has been given.

    I've stated on many different occassions that the spiritual experiences I have enjoyed are more than just a feeling. Some have been but many are more than that especially when I'm looking for confirmation. Joe Blow, Mormoncowboy and many others have constantly peppered the idea that it is just a feeling that can not be used in court. They feel this is an over rule of my testimony.

    Testimony comes to many people and all have the Spirit of Christ in them. Many do not understand the difference between the Holy Ghost or Satan's own revelations. Yes, Satan can and does reveal insights. However, where the Holy Ghost is, Satan can not come. When the spirit withdraws itself from a person then Satan has the ability to counter. One put in ONE cup of coffee or tea which is false as far as the spirit withdrawing.

    Many of the critics including those who say they are members mislead and misrepresent the General Authorities teachings and instructions.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    March 28, 2011 12:03 p.m.

    Ash's title reads, "What critics don't understand about testimony."

    A century ago, Ash could have just as easily written, "Testimony has the wonderful property of remaining invisible to everyone who is unfit for the office he held, or who was extraordinarily simple in character."

    Thus, "No one would allow that he could not see these much-admired clothes; because, in doing so, he would have declared himself either a simpleton or unfit for his office."

    The Gold Plates were fashioned out of the very same gold from which the tailors fashioned the Emperor's New Clothes. In order to see the Gold Plates (or see the evidences of the BOM) you must be "worthy" (by Mormon standards).

    Like myself, many have "testified" that we have prayed and prayed, but testimony has never come. Instead of acknowledging our worth and dignity, apologists continue to condemn us: we are insincere, lacking in "real intent", lacking in "faith in Christ", unworthy, or failed in some way. Now Ash adds that we are simpletons who "just don't understand testimony".

    The condemnation continues. Lest you forget, your burden is to testify to people like us, not to one another.

  • windsor City, Ut
    March 28, 2011 12:01 p.m.

    super observations.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    March 28, 2011 11:44 a.m.

    "Critics don't understand testimony"

    "Intellectual apostasy"

    "faith crises"

    "shaken faith syndrome"...

    are all pseudo-clinical labels Ash and other LDS apologists have invented and are trying to pawn off on naive readers as "disorders".

    The strategy is to use intellectual-sounding rhetoric to make those who doubt into "bad people" who have allowed the viruses of skepticism to infect their minds because they failed to remain righteously copacetic and retain their "testimonies".

    Who truly has the guts to admit when we have been duped by charlatans? Who has the strength of character necessary to acknowledge that we have confessed "truths" in the past that were based on naivete, misunderstandings, and wishful thinking?

    Who has the fortitude to admit to our closest family and friends that we really don't believe that the Emperor (or Prophet) has any fancy clothes on? And risk being ostracized, outcast, uninvited, branded with a scarlet letter, and condemned as being unfaithful?

    Ash and his buddies will play on these forces, trying to convince those who doubt to feel guilty and "repent", and to demonize those who express their sincere disbelief in the Church and the BOM on which it stands.

  • aaazzz Murray, UT
    March 28, 2011 11:43 a.m.

    I wish the DN filter was not just for content. I wish it could filter for grammar as well. If comments had to make sense it make the dialog better.

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    March 28, 2011 11:36 a.m.

    Thanks Mr. Ash. I always appreciate your efforts. I wondered why you did not include the most pragmatic method of knowing- try it and if it works". For many this is the "knowing" they refer to. It may be supported by "spiritual" burning, but it is the living day by day and the working of it that provides the "evidence" of things unseen.

  • yarrlydarb Ogden, UT
    March 28, 2011 11:31 a.m.

    Intriguing is the number of negative comments to Michael Ash's article!

    Why is that?

    Might it be that naysayers compose such intellectual arguments but, underneath it all, they actually wish they could see what they so adamantly refuse to consider?

    "Me thinks thou doth protest too much."

    If they truly believe as they say they do, what's the point of even trying to engage believers in such a futile exercise?

    It would appear that this is their own brand of "missionary work"; i.e. "convert" the believer into a non-believer!

    Hey, it's everyone's right to believe as he or she chooses, right?

    Disbelievers endeavor vigorously to proselyte believing Mormons much more than do set-apart Mormon missionaries.

    Mormon missionaries are instructed to ask a person if he or she has interest in their message. If not, they are not to push it.

    The truth is, non-believers are much more adamant about "converting" believing Mormons to their own brand of religion than believers are to convert non-believers.

    For empirical proof of that statement, just look at the number of non-believers' comments herein as opposed to the number of believers' comments.

  • The Milk Beast Herriman, UT
    March 28, 2011 11:19 a.m.



  • JM Lehi, UT
    March 28, 2011 11:07 a.m.

    So, on topic (repeatedly discussed Cumorah, intentional misleading by critics, and the map (authors points of interest to them, not of JS Moroni route)).
    How do we tell light from darkness? Again, if you cant youre lost.
    Logic?, yes, but critics give no logical reasons for their beliefs, and admittedly must resort to dishonesty to try to lead LDS astray (reasonable red flag : ).

    Can they find mistakes of men? Certainly, in Peter, David, Paul, JS, all.

    Can they explain the miraculous nature of the BoM, PoGP, DC etc? Never. All must admit these are from God or Satan (thus the Atheists will get little attention tw, unless they confront previous). The BoM leads to Christ (clue). Antis of all sorts deny His reality for ancient Americans.

    We might quote scriptures: Pharisees also.
    Claim the Bang from nothing proves tradition?: Science claims singularity something, everything. And still looking for critic responses to many discussions of the injustice (illogic?) of ex-nihilo (maybe logic isnt basis for critical claims?) or the illogic of Christians denying God incarnate (central to Christianity) or the necessary logic of eternal law. (See March18JM to brokenclay on Defending the Faith and Natural Disasters).

    Cont. discernment later : )

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    March 28, 2011 10:52 a.m.

    As a bit of a critic, I just want to say that Ash does not accurately represent my views. I do not think that "all Latter-day Saint testimonies are void of reason and rationale," nor do I think that "a testimony is nothing more than feelings or emotions." Rather, I think that Mormons use rationality and physical evidence as long as it comports with their world view. However, when it comes to challenging issues about the church, in my experience, Mormons regularly replace reason and rationale with spiritual feelings or emotions. In other words, I don't think Mormons are always irrational with their testimonies, but they sometimes are.

    For example, I've heard people state absurdities like the dinosaur fossils are from other planets that were used to create the earth. Such a statement is not rational and is only made because dinosaurs conflict with some Mormons' world views. Also, whenever presented with particularly troubling evidence, almost without fail, my Mormon colleagues will say that the evidence isn't convincing or can be ignored, because they have already received a spiritual feeling to the contrary. I think criticisms of such irrational positions or spirituallybased positions is fair.

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    March 28, 2011 10:40 a.m.

    This is a three Advil article for me. When Ash started these articles over a year ago, he stated the purpose was to show our current findings and evidences for the BoM.

    Now, we get an article by Ash that states that we cannot expect to find evidence or proof for the BoM because that would destroy our agency.

    I'm going to lie down for a minute. My head is killing me.

  • nanniehu Wendover, UT
    March 28, 2011 10:25 a.m.

    I keep going over & over this article and am amazed at the misconceptions and the thoughts read into what Brother Ash said. Keep in mind, this is the first of a 3 part discourse. Evidence of the truthfulness of the gospel has been witnessed in my life by the healing of my child through a priesthood blessing after 18 months of chronic illness. Holding a child in my arms, seeing the new growth on a tree, following a prompting, watching those who find joy in service, yes, reading the Book of Mormon, all are evidence that God lives. As for living as we believe, sometimes, due to life's challenges, we don't always act as believers. Thank goodness for the atonement! If we falter, does it always mean we don't have a testimony? No! It may mean that we lack the strength or commitment at the time, to follow what we know is right. I'm grateful to the few here who were willing to put their necks out to find the positive in this article. Sometimes we try to wrestle too much with words and thoughts, instead of following the spirit.

  • BoiseSuperBlue Twin Falls, ID
    March 28, 2011 10:24 a.m.

    Brother Ash said in his article,
    "Critics typically claim that Latter-day Saints rely on feelings in lieu of evidence thereby implying that there is no rational thought that factors into their spiritual testimonies. This is unmitigated nonsense and contains at least three errors the first two of which will be discussed in this installment."

    Talk about a Straw Man Argument. Didn't Brother Ash talk about how critics constantly use Straw Man Arguments against the Church in a recent article? Why does Brother Ash think it is okay to write an article on which the foundation is based on a Straw Man Argument?

    P.S. It's good to see that JM is now posting as yarrlydarb. I just hope when he posts as yarrlydarb he makes more sense.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    March 28, 2011 10:23 a.m.

    Broken: You've been given answers.
    Clearly, there are many Spirits in the world. Mike and Moroni acknowledge that God interacts with all who diligently seek in faith. Satan also preaches all manner of doctrine.
    I don't dismiss your "spiritual experience." But insist its crucial to learn to tell the difference between the spirit of deception and truth, if you cant you're in trouble.

    We all hear stories of people deceived. Critics hope this means no one knows any truth (including themselves?).

    A friend joined the LDS Church, went to a Christian bookstore, looking for Christian books, found anti-LDS books instead, was taken by a pastor to a dark room, pressured into stumbling words ("tongues"), the Pastor said "look up, you can almost touch it." A man in white was in the air. Despite all appearances this woman had recently received the Holy Spirit of Truth, she immediately recognized the contrasting darkness surrounding her and departed.

    In JS day many sought tongue binding experiences, thinking they were from God. When Joseph had one, he recognized it immediately as his enemy, and he CONTINUED seeking, exerting all his heart strength, and finding contrasting Light and Truth.

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    March 28, 2011 9:59 a.m.


    My mistake. What I referred to was in Journal of Discourses. I never intentionally mislead, so my apologies.

    ""The great and last battle, in which several hundred thousand Nephites
    perished was on the hill Cumorah, the same hill from which the plates
    were taken by Joseph Smith, the boy about whom I spoke to you the other
    evening." (Talk given by Apostle Orson Pratt, Feb. 11, 1872 Journal of
    Discourses Vol. 14, pg. 331)

    So, I will retract my original post, but pose the same questions concerning the J of D, as it is commonly quoted.

  • yarrlydarb Ogden, UT
    March 28, 2011 9:53 a.m.

    It must be at least a little disheartening for Michael Ash to read all these doubters' intellectualizing spiritual experience.

    It's sort of like the saying that you cannot argue with a fool. There is no reasoning, of course with a fool.

    Not to say that the intellectualizers are fools, by any means at all.

    It's just that there is no one so blind as the one who will not see and will not even consider that there is something beyond their own experience.

    Sad to say the least.

  • zero_limits_33 Eagle mountain, UT
    March 28, 2011 9:41 a.m.

    This article reminds me of what a philosopher once told me, "circular reasoning is the best. Why? Because it is circular."

    It always makes me laugh when the faithful claim that this burning in their bosom is confirmation of truth. Many people throughout history have used the same reasoning to justify some truly horrendous actions. Are their convictions not as valid as everyone else? If that is the standard for knowing truth, we are left with all kinds of contradictions and fallacious reasoning. There are mormons who believe they are part of the one true church, but so do the baptists and catholics and a good portion of religions. Both propositions can not be true. It is either the one true church or its not. This is why evidence, reason, rational thinking are important. Without them there is no objectively to our lives and every claim becomes equally valid.

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    March 28, 2011 9:40 a.m.

    I've shared on here before that I've had a spiritual experience which presented the falsehood of the LDS Church. My experience was mocked and simply passed off as doubtful. Something seems awfully inconsistent here. I haven't yet received an answer from a Mormon here (Mr. Ash or otherwise) to my point that there are many spirits in the world, and any one of these spirits can impart a feeling. The question is, how do you know that you have the right spirit? We cannot both be right -- one of us has been duped by a deceiving spirit concerning the LDS Church.

    Mr. Ash has made the case this week for a rational component to a spiritual witness. I'm not sure that this will help his case, though. For instance, I've been pointing out all along that Big Bang Cosmology is highly supportive of the traditional Christian understanding of creation -- from nothing. I've also pointed out that a corporeal, once-man god cannot found the moral law. Such a deity must be capricious and arbitrary (a fact borne out well in the history of the LDS Church).

  • Everybody Wang Chung Tonight Riverton, Utah
    March 28, 2011 9:28 a.m.

    Michael states that the Lord doesn't give evidence or proof because that would destroy our free agency. What?!

    Let's not forget that people in scripture received lots and lots of evidence from God. The Apostle Thomas, all those Nephites, the seas suddenly parting, the sun stopping, the walking on water, the feeding of thousands with a single basket of fare, the immediate clearing of leprosy... on and on. Was their agency abridged?

    So now that Mike Ash has claimed that evidence would destroy our agency, I hope he's not going to undercut that claim by trying to offer evidence for the Book of Mormon.

    If he does, does that mean he was just kidding?

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    March 28, 2011 9:20 a.m.

    Allen: Mike Ash said,In ancient times,they typically believed that the heart was home for both the soul as well as the origination of thoughts. Not Judaism.
    Jesus replied: Love(*agapao) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your MIND. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. (Mt 22:37,38) Also see(Deut. 6:5 Greek Septuagint),The Apostles Bible.
    *Not phileo(affection)but agapao commitment of devotion and can be commanded as a duty. The Greek should be preferred over Websters dictionary.

    For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts(mind) and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 KJV) Gods word penetrates the depth of ones total being.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    March 28, 2011 9:06 a.m.

    @JoeBlow "D&C has specifically stated that the Great Battle took place in New York at THAT Hill Cumorah, yet he continues to look for other places."

    JoeBlow, would you please give the chapter(s) and verse(s) from the D&C that specifically state the Great Battle took place in New York at THAT Hill Cumorah. I would like to study the verses. Thanks in advance.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    March 28, 2011 8:59 a.m.

    It is completely untrue, that "critics" describe Mormon testimonies as "feelings". The fact is, Mormons have done this! Just watch any Mormon try and explain what the experience of the Holy Ghost is like, from personal experience, and they will describe a litany of "peaceful" sensations and euphoria. Critics simply criticize this epistemological method.

    Secondly, Ashe's article today strictly relies on scripture to make points that can't actually be satisfied in practical experience. Let's use D&C section 9, quoted in the article. While we commonly quote this verse "you must study it out in your mind...", but can anyone explain to me how Oliver Cowdrey was supposed to study the characters of an unknown and mysterious language, out in his mind? Yes, God wants us to study it out, and provides nonsensical narratives in scripture to prove this. I have studied this story out in my mind, and found it to be quite lacking, and by implication any arguments supported by this story to be suspect.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    March 28, 2011 8:58 a.m.

    There are many ideas in this article that I agree with. Testimony should have basis in fact and reason, and truth can be found outside of the standard works. However, many critics, myself included, have been raised in the church and understand what testimony is. Testimony is based on faith and belief in Christ and is not a proof that Lehi ever lived in Mesoamerica.

    It's interesting that Mr. Ash would address this topic before continuing with his proofs that Mesoamerica is the location of the BoM. It's as though he is taking our hand and stating that we need to trust our testimony as we delve into these facts. In reality, this discussion should not need testimony. As others have pointed out, the Church has taken no stand on the location, so spiritual witness should not be required. In fact, apologists have shot down Rod Meldrum's theories in part because he did receive spiritual witness (see the FARMS review). The proofs should be archaeologically evident and indisputable. Testimony may give one comfort and strength in difficult times, but it is not a proof and has no place in a discussion of archaeology in Central_America.

  • Pickle Juice, The Key to a BCS Clinton, UT
    March 28, 2011 8:58 a.m.

    Ash states in his article that critics don't understand a testimony. I'm LDS and I don't understand either. Isn't a testimony a personal witness that you know something is true? You always hear many LDS saying "I know the church and BoM is true." If you have studied, prayed, and received a divine witness from God about a deity, why would you worry about losing it? It seems pretty ironclad right? Wrong! According to Church teachings, it can be lost at the drop of a hat. Here is a short list of the many ways you can lose the divine witness from a supreme being:

    -skipping a few Sundays at church
    -skipping a tithing payment
    -reading too much unflattering history of the Church
    -not reading your scriptures
    -watching an "R" rated movie
    -drinking coffee or tea
    -not attending the temple regularly
    -not bearing your testimony regularly

    and so on and so on...

    If skipping Church can cause someone to lose their testimony, then how valid of a testimony was it to begin with? How can you have such a supernatural witness and then forget about it? Or was it just a warm fuzzy feeling?

  • aaazzz Murray, UT
    March 28, 2011 8:58 a.m.

    I wonder what the course of these articles is. It started out telling us some there was some evidence for the Book of Mormon, (The article on Nahom = NHM.), or at least there were some reasons why evidence no longer exsited. (The article on DNA.) These last two articles seem to be heading in a new direction.

    Personally, I am an active member of the LDS faith, and I read the Book of Mormon daily. That has not prevented, and in some cases has led me, to the opion that it is a doctinal book, not a historical book. I feel fine with that solution even if others do not.

    As a side note, if we look at the recent illustrated books and movies the church has produced about the Book of Mormon, they seem to indicate that the church feels a Central American location would be appropriate for the Book of Mormon.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    March 28, 2011 8:39 a.m.

    How is what Mr. Ash is stating unique to Mormon believers, is it not the same for other devoted believers, Catholics, Jews, Protestants, FLDS, and even those totally consumed and dedicated to their favorite sports team, visitation by aliens; or other love of life. Mr. Ash proves nothing, most people realize that there are serious fanatics in this world that see, feel, believe and think they know things that others can not percieve the existense of. Maybe this is a subject best left to psychiatrists and not religious apologists.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    March 28, 2011 8:36 a.m.

    Thanks, Mike, for this article and for explaining that the ancients considered the heart as the source of both reason and emotion, thus leading to the concept that pondering in ones heart includes both reason and emotion. The critics who will respond to this article will likely claim that you've changed the meaning of the word "heart" and that pondering in ones heart only refers to emotions. These people don't seem to recognize that ancient people had different definitions to words than we have and that the LDS scriptures were often given within the context of ancient use not modern use.

    The 1828 Webster Dictionary includes the following.

    6. The seat of the understanding; as an understanding heart.
    We read of men wise in heart, and slow of heart.

    A clear reference given prior to the publishing of the BoM and the organization of the LDS church that the word "heart" refers to intellect. Of course, the 1828 Webster Dictionary also defines heart as we do today, the seat of emotions. So, how do we determine which definition should be used? By the context of other verses of scripture, as Ash brought out in his article.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    March 28, 2011 8:34 a.m.

    Another excellent article. Thanks.

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    March 28, 2011 8:15 a.m.

    Many quotes in this article from D&C.

    I am confused as to how people like Ash are fine with quoting D&C to support their positions, but disregard other D&C quotes when they are not in agreement.

    D&C has specifically stated that the Great Battle took place in New York at THAT Hill Cumorah, yet he continues to look for other places.

    How does one know which D&C passages are quotable and which can be discarded.

    Can you really have it both ways?

  • GDTeacher Hillsboro, OR
    March 28, 2011 8:05 a.m.

    This article is suggestive of epistemology, but does not address the topic directly. It would be useful if Br. Ash could cover the topic of epistemology and testimony in the next edition or a future edition. Some would say that epistemology (the study of the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge) and testimony don't fit together, but I think most LDS as well as probably most religious peoples would believe that they do.

    When it comes to our testimonies, how do we know what we know? How reliable is our method of knowing? Does our method of knowing relate to other areas of inquiry, or only to religious investigation? Does testimony equate to knowing? If it does not, why do so many of us say that we "know"? How is the testimony method of coming to knowledge better than other methods of knowing?

    Thank you for the article. I look forward to the next installation.

  • yarrlydarb Ogden, UT
    March 28, 2011 7:53 a.m.

    Thanks, Michael.

    Something that never ceases to amaze me is the amount amount and intensity of the critic's arrogance when it comes to obtaining a spiritual conviction.

    Since they have never experienced anything like that, or have not ever given notice to it if it had ever come to them, they conclude that it does not exist.

    Once I overheard a person testify as to her conviction concerning a spiritual experience and her sister who had never experienced anything like that said, "Well, then, if you have experienced what you say you have, why doesn't God give me any such experience?"

    "Have you ever asked God for such an experience?" came the reply the reply.

    "Well, no."

    "There you have your answer, my dear sister. How can you expect God to give you something that you have never had interest in obtaining? He is never going to force anything upon you that you have no real interest in acquiring."

    Critics seem to arrogantly believe that since they are not interested in any kind of spiritual awakening, then no one else should be so interested either.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    March 28, 2011 7:52 a.m.

    Great article again.
    Ive also noticed critics chant that evidence is the only way, truth and life. But, when given abundant evidences, they dismiss without reason, offer absolutely no evidence for their own faiths (Atheism, Agnosticism, Episcopalian, evangelical, Deity avoidance etc), and simply move on to another anti-Mormon concoction or misquote. And, when those are debunked, there are nearly 200 years of other anti-Mormons to quote, and when that fails, they insult, and make something new up, because, as we all know, they are here to tell the Mormons the truth about Mormonism, and twisting and lying about Mormonism is the only way to effectively save Mormons..from real truth something???

    I agree that, of the mountains of evidence, the most important is the voice of God, the voice of reason. Sometimes I struggle in pondering. At crucial times, after trying, strengthening, preparatory faith (for by it all things are, and will be, done), He speaks, in my heart and mind, so powerfully, always reasonably, in light, truth, and very real, concrete love, above anything human mind is capable of, sometimes accurately giving important future details, impossible to know on my own.

    Explain that my critical friends

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    March 28, 2011 7:46 a.m.

    While impractical, I don't have any problem with faith inside a vacuum. Nothing to disuade or lead you to believe. I could even stomach faith where there is only a small amount that leads you to disbelieve. However imo, the believe vs disbelieve ratio far favors the disbeleive, in Mormonism.

    I do think the tone was a bit lighter than last week, and that's always nice.

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    March 28, 2011 7:14 a.m.

    Vaughn J Featherstone told of a young women that at 11 months had burning in bosom to leave mission. It was confusing and he said since the Lord is no respector or persons he would give that feeling to anyone that wanted to go home early. Said Lords house is not house of confusing.

    I worked with someone that had a burning in the bosom that his supervisors at work were doing things wrong. Felt it over other things too. He however was not living worthy to have the companionship of the spirit as he excused himself from meetings (because people picked on him). Didn't want to keep the commandments though. Felt it to start going back to church. Like he needed an answer.

    Thing is you also cannot get revelation outside your stewardship like he claimed to recieve. Interesting situations.