Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pascal's remorse

What Good Can Come From Being Athiest? —ROD

Im a christian. and I see no reason why someone would be atheist. Of course everyone has the right to believe what they want but why would someone want to jeopardize their life.

It's funny how when believers are confronted with contradictory evidence, the argument always shifts to utilitarian reasons for believing. "OK, maybe my beliefs don't really make rational sense, but being a Christian makes me a better person!" Well does it? I think people who feel this way need to give themselves more credit. Take it from someone who once was a believer and now is not, God is not the only thing keeping you from being immoral.

As to your comment about "jeopardizing your life," I can only guess what you mean by that. Are we talking about the afterlife? Because if so that logic makes no sense at all unless you first believe that (a) there is an afterlife, and (b) the particular religion you're a part of is the one that can lead you there. When you consider the utter lack of evidence for (a) and the sheer improbability of (b), I'd say there's a much better chance that you're jeopardizing your life now by turning over your time, energy, and means to a cause that is based on false premises.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rational theology

How would I witness to Mormons? —Jonathan

Ok, I was almost sucked into the Mormon religion, and I now see how false and polytheistic it is. I am sad that there are people having their eternities ruined by this. I really want to try my hardest to get people out of this. I have a friend that is a Mormon. and a bunch of people I know. I really want to witness to them of the power of Jesus Christ, and get their focus off of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. But I don't know how to go about this. I really
want to get people out of the religion. I need your help.

I think I can help you out here. See, your Mormon friends believe some things that are demonstrably false. All you have to do is show them the evidence, and then they'll evaluate it rationally just as you have done.

Start with the story of Adam and Eve. Mormons actually believe that the entire human race came from these two individuals. Their creation myth is entirely silent on the evolution of Cro-Magnons or their cousins the Neanderthals. Funny, you'd think they'd have heard about this by now.

Anyway, once you've cleared up that bit of nonsense, point them to the story of Noah's ark. It's a fundamental belief in Mormonism that the earth was deluged in water and a guy named Noah survived with his family by floating it out in a boat. Just point out to them what a worldwide flood would have done to all the plant and animal life on the planet. All gone, right? So what, did Noah then float from continent to continent replacing all the indigenous plants and animals in their natural habitats? And just exactly how many species of beetle did he pack on the ark? (Because God knows they haven't evolved since!)

That ought to be enough to help your friends see they've been wrong all along. They'll be all ears to hear about your church.

Mormon or ninja?

Could knowing the difference between a Mormon and a ninja actually save your life? —tjsgigante

No words.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bachelor of nonsense

Has an ex-Mormon ever returned their BYU degree? —Davidson

or would that be too inconvenient, losing the benefits of being seen as a BYU alum.

since they hate the church so much, has anybody torn it up or returned it?

Huh? They might wish it was another school's name on the diploma, but that's not a reason to give back a college degree. You haven't thought this through. The sad reality is there are lots of students at BYU who no longer believe in Mormonism. (Maybe they went off campus and searched "book of abraham" on YouTube.) But these students are forced to keep a low profile and hide their disaffection for fear of expulsion and inability to get transcripts. You can read their stories at and other places. BYU treats a loss of faith in Mormonism as an honor code violation, and the only way to be reinstated is to be rebaptized a Mormon. Sort of turns that whole persecution thing upside down, doesn't it?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Speaking Gentile

What are some Book of Mormon study aids in English for people with English as a second language? —Dan

I am an LDS member and I need to know of good ways to study the Book of Mormon in English. I have been called to be a missionary in an English speaking country and English is my second language. Are there any study aids or methods out there that would help me? Thank you for your help.

The best one I could suggest is called "An Insider's View of Mormon Origins" by Grant Palmer. Since you'll be telling the story of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon over and over on your mission, this will give you enough background to ensure you don't unintentionally lie to people.

As far as language goes, I served in Korea and found there was no shortage of gospel-related study materials in Korean. What I wish I'd done more of is study the culture and politics and current events so that I could converse about things that matter in people's everyday lives. My biggest regret is that I spent two years in Korea thinking I had something important to tell the people, and not really learning anything in return.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Live, laugh, love ... or else!

Why is the Mormon religion so.. Stern? —Reed

I could not find another way to convey the word I was meaning to say..
So I have a a couple friends that are of the Mormon, and I have noticed that all of them are much less careless about thing as a lot of other people. And then one day I asked one of them why it was like that. They replied "Well, God advises us to live our lives to the fullest and these are the ways he chose." I proceeded to ask why have to they listen to God and they replied "We don't HAVE to, its our choice to"

I know what you're talking about, Reed. Mormons emphasize general goodness just like every other faith, but they take certain surface behaviors to the extreme. It's a proselyting faith, so I think that's one reason. Mormons are encouraged to be a light to the world, and the way that usually comes across is through things like not smoking or drinking, not swearing, not wearing sleeveless tops, that kind of thing.

I think there's more to this whole "stern" thing, though. Mormonism is unfortunately a very guilt-based religion. From their youth members are given all these expectations for conforming to a certain mold, they're asked to take on all kinds of church responsibilities, and to remember a whole laundry list of to-do items to keep them "close to the Spirit." All of this is supposed to make them deliriously happy of course, and for some personality types I'm sure it really works. The rest take their Prozac and put on a happy face, because to do otherwise is to admit you're not living as you should.

So why don't they just quit if it's making them miserable? Simple, they really believe what the church has told them all their lives. I think it's the guilt that actually keeps people in, keeps them needing the redemption the church promises, and keeps them so focused on their own perceived inadequacies that they never stop to question it all.

Mormons have a saying that the church is perfect even if the members aren't. I think that's pretty much backwards. Honestly I think what every Mormon needs more than anything else is just to be told they're OK, really and truly OK, just the way they are. But they're not going to hear that at church.