Sunday, August 31, 2008

Richard Dawkins on Mormonism. —Cambridge

Richard Dawkins on Mormonism:

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"The Mormon religion is so obviously fake ... I mean, nothing could be more obvious than that man was a fake and a charlatan and a liar ... this mountebank who wrote a bogus book, The Book of Mormon, and though he was writing in the nineteenth century chose to write it in seventeenth century English. I mean, why don't people see through that? I can't understand it."

Yeah, that's kind of funny, in retrospect. But I'm sure Dawkins does understand it, despite his flippant little aside here. Is it "obvious" that the Mormon church is bogus? Sure it is, unless you're already a part of it or emotionally attached to it when you begin your investigation. That's a long way of saying I disagree with Dr. Dawkins on this point, but I'm guessing it's not a strongly held opinion on his part and was said more for laughs.

Friday, August 22, 2008

LDS & Food Storage/ Emergency kits?? —zangmo315

I have an employee that keeps talking about her church being very involved in emergency food storage & having 72 hour emergency packs-- I asked her why the church was so into this & she said it was just "being prepared in case of a disaster"... ok fine- but why is the church making sure everyone has it? I asked her if it was because we were nearing the "end" and she said no... was she just protecting her beliefs (I was unaware the LDS were into end time prophecy-- are they are are they not??) or is it just a "community service" thing they are into?
She's been talking about it a lot the last few weeks- so I would like to know. She's usually very open about discussing her religion w/ me, but this just seems odd to me.
When originally founded the LDS church was very much a Millennialist group like others of its time. The third prophet after Joseph Smith was Wilford Woodruff, whose writings are filled with visions of the end times and blessings to others that they would see the return of Christ. Of course much of that has died down now since Jesus remains a no show, unless he really was the guy who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart?

But I don't think you're far off in your supposition, zangmo. I think Mormons generally justify their food storage in practical terms, but see it as a protection for the days leading up to the Second Coming. You can see the shift toward practicality in many of the other answers to this question:

"They came in handy ..." "It's smart to have food in case there is no food ..." "It's just a smart thing to do." "Its about being self reliant" "It's about being prepared for disaster, job loss, etc." "It's good general advice."

Look, I'm a financial planner. In all my college work, all may CFP® courses, and all my years in the industry I've never heard the subject of food storage brought up. It may be harmless—except in terms of time, money, and storage space—but in almost every emergency what a family needs is money, not rolled oats. I would venture that for every faith-promoting story of food storage saving the day, dozens more have had theirs go to waste. And even for those who had to use it, they'd have been better off putting that savings in an interest-earning account. This food storage thing has been very expensive advice for the general membership.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What happens when you die? —Mormon Alumni
I grew up mormon so i know their perspective of the afterlife. I want to hear what others believe
I've been to funerals, I've seen the deceased lying there. I'm pretty sure that's the end of an individual's existence as a sentient being. Sorry.

Don't get me wrong, I think immortality sounds pretty nice, but you have every reason to be cynical when religions promise blessings after death for adherence now. I do think it's an important question to ask, and I think people should consider and deal with the fact of their own mortality. But don't let it make you crazy. After all, you don't worry about the timeless millennia that passed before you ever came on the scene, right?

And if it helps, people do live on in some ways. Your identity, or other people's perception of you, doesn't disappear with death. The good you've done for others continues; even your genes may continue if you have children. If the thought of death haunts you, try thinking beyond yourself and try to expand your definition of identity. You're a part of a family, a country, a world, even a part of life. In the scheme of things, your death is just a date on a government record. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.

Don't hand over the one life you have to religious dogma for the false hope of life after death.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What are some of the prophecies given by modern day prophets of the mormon church? —Mormon Alumni
When I listen to the prophet during General conference im only hearing good advice.. im not hearing the prophecies. Help me out!
That was a very thorough answer, joshsybs, but I failed to see any examples of modern prophecies in your response.

joshsybs wrote: "People confuse seer-ship with prophecy. If you hear the prophet speak and bear testimony, you have heard prophecy, he's a prophet because of his testimony of Jesus Christ."
I'm sorry, but equivocating over the definition of prophecy is a weasel answer. Thomas Monson couldn't prophesy his way to a grocery store. And what's the point of having a prophet if, as you imply, they only have something prophetic to say every few hundred years? I can think of plenty of instances where a little advance notice to believers could come in handy. The best anyone's come up with here yet is food storage, which hardly qualifies, even if someone in your ward lost their job and lived on ground wheat for a year.

Friday, August 15, 2008

MORMONS! Please tell me how it is possible to believe in the Book of Mormon when modern DNA analysis proves ? —wildawox

that native Americans are not descended from the Hebrews at all, and there are references to wheeled carts, horses, steel, and the 7 day week, none of which were around in the West during the pre-Columbian era. I am not trying to be mean, I would like to believe in this story of the Lamanites and Nephites so please tell me how are these contradictions solved?
DNA analysis doesn't prove "that native Americans are not descended from the Hebrews at all." It just doesn't support any such theory. There's plenty of room for belief in a small Hebrew population mixing with the natives. You say you would like to believe in this story ... well, R Rosskopf has answered all of your apparent contradictions. I look forward to news of your baptism.

R Rosskopf wrote:
As previously noted, DNA doesn't prove much.

5.1 Horses - their bones haven't been found, but there are traditions that they were known before the Spaniards arrived, and there are carvings of horses among the Mayan ruins.
5.2 Elephants - There are carvings of Elephants among the mayan ruins too.
5.3 Cattle and cows - Cattle can refer to bison, which did exist.
5.4 Swine - Wild boar did exist in North America.
5.5 Barley and wheat - Barley has been found. Wheat hasn't been found, but several different grains have been called wheat over the years, and the Mayan did eat cultivate grain.
5.6 Chariots or wheeled vehicles - No chariots have been found, but toys with wheels have been found. Liters have also been found in the stone carvings. The rulers liked to be carried in liters.
5.7 Steel and iron - The Mayans did have steel as it is traditionally defined, as well as iron. The modern definition of steel doesn't apply, as it hadn't been invented yet.
5.8 Metal swords, which had "rusted" - Iron implements have been found
5.9 Cimiters - cimiters were fairly common, as they were easy to make.
5.10 System of exchange based on measures of precious metals - certain weights of precious metals, to be precise. This was common before coinage was introduced. The Mayans also had such a system.
5.11 Silk - Fine cloth with a silklike smoothness has been found.
5.12 Knowledge of Hebrew and Egyptian languages - some say that the Popul Vuh shows a strong Hebrew influence.
5.13 Compass - The Book of Mormon doesn't mention a magnetic compass, but it does mention the Liahona which directed people by means of a spinning spindle. The Giron Gagal used by the Mayan had much the same function. Both translate as compass, or director.
5.14 Windows - Not all windows are "glass" windows. There are many windows among Mayan ruins.

So much has been found, that it is not unreasonable to yet expect many great discoveries. Pre-columbian Chickens were discovered just last year. That is another anachronism of the Book of Mormon.

The Mayan calendar wasn't based on a 7 day week, but that doesn't mean that some small Jewish subculture didn't use one. Mayan legends tell of a man named Jawbone who came across the ocean with his family. Jawbone is the literal definition of the Hebrew word Lehi, which is the father of two civilizations in the Book of Mormon. In the book "People of the Serpent", which chronicles one Mesoamerican legend, it talks about these white people who came across the ocean and brought civilization to the natives; they quickly became the leaders of great nations. Stone carvings show them dressed in Mediterranian clothing, and wearing beards.
It just takes a little digging.
Look under the topic Book of Mormon at the following website for more:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What do you think of the Book of Mormon —Tyler S

The other day these two guys dressed in white gave me this book called the Book of Mormon, does anyone know anything about it? Is it worth reading?
If you're asking about its literary quality, there's not a lot of middle ground on this one. Based on the reviews it's a 3 ½ star book, but that's just the average. I just looked at the last 100 customer reviews, and here's how it breaks down:

: 25

: 7

: 6

: 2

: 60

Skimming through these, I don't think I saw a single believing member give the book less than 5 stars. Nor did I notice any nonbelievers giving it more than 4. So apparently it's great literature to the already convinced.

I think you should read it, if you have the time. Especially if you have some connection to Mormonism or know people who are Mormons. If you're familiar with the KJV Bible lots of this book will sound familiar. It uses King James English throughout; works in Old and New Testament phrases, verses, and names on almost every page; and even includes whole sections from the book of Isaiah. In fact you may also notice that many of the stories sound like reworkings of familiar Bible tales, from the Exodus to Jonah to parallel miracles and sermons.

Yes, it can be tiresome, with its drawn out battle scenes and overuse of terms like "exceedingly" and "it came to pass," but you'll at least have some idea what your Mormon friends base their faith on. Personally I'd have preferred to keep the gold plates it was translated from, but I guess that's why I wasn't chosen as prophet, huh?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Should I join the Mormon church? Why or why not? —mckenzie j
I just want to see what you think about it.
Hey, at least when you ask on Y!A you get answers, huh? But no, there's only a small minority of people out there who I believe are truly better off as Mormons. Like other religions, Mormonism attempts to insulate itself from scrutiny by telling you to focus on good feelings, not rely on your intellect, and stay away from ideas that will challenge your faith. How that deliberate closedmindedness can possibly be a virtue I'll never understand.

[Sorry if that's too hard to read. Try clicking here.]

And meanwhile it appropriates every good thing in your life and tells you these things are a result of your belief, until believers start saying things like, "I don't know where I'd be without this church." This while filling people with guilt over all sorts of perceived offenses and sins of omission--feelings which only your faith can help you overcome. Mormonism is the poison and the cure.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I dont know what to do!?!? —lil mama

My dad is a mormon but my mom is a christian. My grandma goes to the same church as my mom. My dad wants me to get baptized in his church, but my mom wants me to get baptized in her church. I believe the mormon church is true and i believe the christian church is true. PLEASE HELP ME OUT HERE!!!!
If you're still young or it's just important to you to please both parents, join both churches. Hopefully your parents will grow up eventually and not put their beliefs about the afterlife ahead of their own daughter in the here and now. This makes both their religions look bad.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Is the episode on south park "all about the mormons" factual? —yeaaa

I saw this episode today. It said he translated the testament out of a hat, and then someone lost that translation so he read an entirely different testament out of a hat which is now the book of mormon. Is this true?
It's been a long while since I've seen it, but I don't remember anything in that episode that seemed wildly inaccurate. It was basically like watching the LDS church's own "First Vision" proselyting video, but with "dum-dum-dum-dum-dum" background music. I do remember that the South Park episode implicates Lucy Harris ("smart-smart-smart-smart-smart") in the disappearance of the first 116 pages, and that is purely conjecture though widely believed.
Do you not answer the door when you think it is a Jehova's witness or a mormon? —johnny w

Cause I just turned off the tv and hunkered down until they went away!
I hate door-to-door sales. I won't buy their products even if they sound good, and I feel no compunction to be cordial with them if they won't take no for an answer. When my wife fell in love with a Kirby vacuum I still told the dude no, even when he insisted he was required to dump the dirt he'd just cleaned back on our carpet. (We found the vacuum for hundreds less on eBay later.)

So I bet you can guess what was my least favorite part of being a Mormon missionary. Sorry if I bothered any of you, if I'd had it my way we'd have been back at the apartment playing cards.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Why does the mormon have a reputation for having great knowledge of peoples ancestry? —monique...

what is the purpose of being able to do real far-fetching histories into peoples pasts?

Mormons believe in "sealings" that join families together in the hereafter based on ordinances done on earth in Mormon temples. So they do vicarious sealings for deceased ancestors. It's what keeps them going back to the temples after going through the first time for their own ordinances.

Ultimately they hope to vicariously baptize, seal, etc. every person who's ever lived so that each person may accept Mormonism in the afterlife *if they choose*. The Family History Library in Salt Lake is open to everyone, though, and I've never been asked about religion when visiting there.
Is anyone married to a mormon without being one? —lilkhafernandez

my husband is not active in the church right now cause of an incident 10 years ago, we have been married 3, no children yet ... he is 20 yrs older than me, the thing is one day he will go back ... and try to be a mormon again, they have very strong beliefs ... they are the one true church, so eventhough I got what they call agency,(free will) I know he expects me to follow those principles, they believe in eternal marriages where couple are sealed in the temple so they can be together after death, ... I dont know what to do, Im not a fake, right now is not a big deal but is an issue waiting to happen. Can a mormon ever accept a person who doesnt follow any religion, I believe in God, was raised catholic, one of the religions he hates the most,not my problem, my question is? do I follow him or is this one day the reason for a future divorce?
Just from what you've told us it sounds like he has a solid background in the LDS faith despite being "inactive." That's not uncommon, I've found that nonpracticing Mormons are also sometimes the most staunch defenders of the faith. So I agree it could become a problem someday if you're not willing to convert and be sealed in the Mormon temple.

Unfortunately there's no easy fix to this one. You basically have two choices: (1) agree together to take a hard look at the evidence supporting EITHER faith's truth claims (don't ask him to do what you're not willing to do!) or (2) clearly articulate some boundaries for what is and is not acceptable, as in "neither of us are required to switch religions for the sake of the other" or even "neither of us is allowed to speak disparagingly about the other's beliefs." It can work, but you're right to start dealing with it sooner rather than later.

married to a Mormon without being one