The most recent messages can be found here.
I previously linked, from this page, to an external site that had that page, but it went down as did the subsequent site I linked to. To be fair, to not have the page look like a straw man was being created by Curt, and to not have to keep finding new TBM sites that have the Challenge on it I just put it on my site.
Not many goals with respect to the Mormon stuff at this point. I created the pages on Mormonism long ago and haven't done much with them recently. See also this page that I wrote back in 1996.
I suppose a quote from Emerson, that I read just last night, might be useful to explain why I think information is a good thing for the Mormon searcher.
"From day to day the capital facts of human life are hidden from our eyes. Suddenly the mist rolls up and reveals them, and we think how much good time is gone that might have been saved had any hint of these things been shown." Ralph Waldo Emerson, Realist: Essays of Resignation and Renewal (page 76)
Is it run by an organization or do you do it all? If it is just you, I commend you for the amount of work you have put into it. If it is an organization, which organization is it. I was told by one person that Mormons in Transition gives you the articles. Is this true?
I do it all, or more correctly, I did most of it. I don't do much on it anymore, however, as I moved past Mormonism years ago as mentioned above. Some articles have come from others as noted on such pages. I'm not affiliated with MIT; nor have I ever been.
Are you LDS? Are you Ex LDS? Are you Evangelical Christian? I am asking because I am wondering what point of view you are starting with as you put together this site.
Today I have been reading the article "To Think or to Follow" at and all the links within that article. Also today, my wife told me she is divorcing me. This is mainly because I have stated that I no longer believe in the LDS church. (It did not start today but has been festering for the last year--and she has known all along.) Is it worth the cost? Or should I just go with the flow? This is extremely devastating, but I don't think I can continue to go through the motions of belief to make our marriage work. Any advice you or anyone else has would be greatly appreciated.
A tough question (and position to be in) with no sure answer. You certainly aren't alone.
From Emerson's essay entitled "Illusions", page 77 of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Realist: Essays of Resignation and Renewal:
"In this kingdom of illusions we grope eagerly for stays and foundations. There is none but a strict and faithful dealing at home, and a severe barring out of all duplicity or illusion there. Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth. I look upon the simple and childish virtues of veracity and honesty as the root of all that is sublime in character. Speak as you think, be what you are... At the top or at the bottom of all illusions, I set the cheat which still leads us to work and live for appearances, in spite of our conviction, in all sane hours, that it is what we really are that avails with friends, with strangers, and with fate or fortune."
I noticed that you have an "other" page devoted to various essays related to critical thinking topics.
If there is still room for further essays to be included on your site, I'd like to suggest this one: http://www.mind-field.com. It takes a position on the philosophy of mind and on the psychology of belief which is an alternative one to the memetics approach, but which deals with much of the same data. In this regard, it takes a more holistic, "systems" approach to the phenomenon of beliefs, as opposed to memetics, which is more "atomistic" in its approach.
It is pretty broad in scope, dealing with scientific, historical and philosophical issues, and is written especially for the educated reader without specialized knowledge in the relevant fields.
Can't say that I have. Is it good?
Favorite book - An Insider's View of Mormon Origins. That put me over the top.
Also, I remain in the church so I have a better chance to effect change from within. If I leave and badmouth the church then I just get labeled as one who left because of some unrepented sin or something. I strongly agree with the comment from http://www.lds-mormon.com/mit.shtml beginning with "On a related issue..."
Perhaps we need to enlighten a very public person and to have him come forward with this to the media. Keep up the good, enlightening work,
I'd consider the label quite appropriate as a statement of readability. I encountered the book in high school, and while by no means am I claiming to have sounded all its depth at that age, I enjoyed it and was quite impressed with its vision. Where we run into trouble is in using such a label as a limitation, i.e., assuming that the book is only for young adults and none other (see Harlan Ellison on being called a "science fiction writer"). For this I would refer one and all to C. S. Lewis, who frankly didn't give a rip for age-limiting categories and indeed would tell you that sometimes an important statement might be made most effectively through the medium of a fairy tale. And then, of course, he went on to provide an excellent example in the Narnia tales.
I have followed your example of linking to pro-Mormon sites and made my own webpage at www.geocities.com/exmormon2000 present two columns for both the pro and con websites on Mormonism. The reader then can read both sides and make their own decision. I think I read somewhere on the message boards that you no longer read material related to Mormonism. However, I thought I would send the following information to you anyway. After reading your essay here, I noticed at the end you talk about the origin of D&C 130. I decide to do my own research. You may or may not have already known the following information but I thought you might find it interesting:
The following is from a paper I wrote titled: THE EVOLUTION OF THE MORMON GODHEAD, 1830-1915: How the first Mormons saw God to how Latter-day Saints see God today:
Orson Pratt…the 1891 D&C provides a footnote to Lecture five in the 1891 D&C 130:22 right where it says the Holy Ghost is a "personage of spirit…" the footnote is Lecture 5:2, 3 thus interconnecting the two scriptures interpreting section 130 with the doctrine of Lecture 5. Keeping in mind that Lecture 5 was the "doctrine" in scripture to clarify the meaning of Willard Richard's journal entry turned "revelation." In section 130:22 there is no doubt that the general membership had a testimony of Binitarianism and section 130 did not clarify that God the Father had a body. Even after it was canonized in 1876 the Lectures on Faith took precedence, as the doctrine that stated the Father is only a spirit… In fact, Orson Pratt continued to remain ambivalent when Brigham Young and others were trying to change the doctrine to make the Holy Ghost a personage. This may have been the very reason why section 130 was made into scripture, as the journal entry of Willard Richard may have been turned into a revelation to probably create an authoritative statement for the developing tritheism and person of the Holy Ghost (See Line Upon Line: Essays on Mormon Doctrine, pg 93).
Pratt's footnote in the 1891 D&C 130:22 to Lecture 5:2, 3 seen in this context would have been his way of sticking to the official church doctrine that the Holy Ghost is not a personage and a non-corporeal presence, even though his leaders have made section 130:22 scripture out of a second hand journal entry. He was obviously staying with official church doctrine at the time, by drawing the readers attention from D&C 130:22 to the Fifth Lecture with his footnotes… If you think about it, at the same time Joseph was studying the concept of the plurality of gods, the vision versions began to go from one personage to two but he never touched the Lectures on Faith… Keeping in mind that Lecture 5 was the "doctrine" in scripture – to clarify the meaning of the journal entry turned "revelation" in section 130:22 – there is no doubt that the general membership had a testimony of Binitarianism for quite some time. This to me is very interesting for the personal testimony of the first Mormons that there are only two persons in the Monotheistic Deity is just as valid as the personal testimony of LDS members today. From: http://www.geocities.com/exmormon2000/godhead1.doc
Or, as is the case with many real lives, they will waste their lives walking towards an impossible dream, based on an inherited dogma rather than a decent and examined methodology, only to find themselves dead in the end. In their case, drowned in the ocean.
I read about the church every spare minute I have and this site has been the most enjoyable for me.
I thank you for having a site that is well organized with a large amount of links. But most of all I thank you for kick starting my mind and helping me to think a little on my own. My progress is slow and my wife is really worried that I have "went off the deep end" but I feel great. Thank you again and please continue to update your site often.
Thanks. I hadn't heard of him before.
I noticed something in Helaman 3:16 that I have not seen anyone comment on before. This verse is a clear reference to the Nephites after their destruction in the present tense. The words, "the Nephites", make it clear that the author is referring to the people as a whole. Since Mormon abridged Helaman before the destruction of the Nephite civilization, it would appear that the real author inadvertently created a serious structural flaw.
You may be onto something here. It wouldn't surprise me. After all the Book of Mormon and D&C are filled with anachronisms and other anomalies, or errors of word choice, on Joseph Smith's part that shouldn't be there. The apologists will find some way to spin it, though, I'm sure.
After deprogramming the religiosity I was raised with I don't have any moments when the natural world makes less sense than a supernatural one.
Do you ever wish there was a God?
What would God be like to you?
Mother Nature. Spinoza's God. Einstein's God. The God of pantheism. A God that makes sense in the real world, as we see it without superstition and inherited myths.
How important it is for people to chart their own own course in life; to make their own (informed) decisions, and when they enter a debate involving controversial issues (religion, politics for example), they do so having sought information from all viewpoints, not succumbing, necessarily, to popular belief. Faith, for instance, should be stricken from the English language, particularly if it is of the irrational kind.
I think your site is extremely important and I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate you for its existence - long may it continue!
She has to want to know first. Try some of the quotes on this page.
If she won't buy into them then forget it. You'll have to wait for her to come around on her own.
If she's willing to investigate you'll probably want to start her off with this book. The author has an M.A. in American History from Brigham Young University, is a three-time director of LDS Institutes of Religion in California and Utah, was an instructor at the Church College of New Zealand, and is an LDS seminary teacher at two Utah locations. He has been active in the Mormon History Association and on the board of directors of the Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association. In his local LDS ward, he is the high priest group instructor.
Blind faith is, in my opinion, not faith at all. It's comfort, tradition, upbringing, ignorance, apathy, and a million other things. But it isn't faith. I'd like to leave you with one caution, something I didn't see on your website. I'm not saying it's not there at all, just that I didn't happen to see it. Please don't think of this as a slam on you, your character, what you have come to believe, or the wonderful things you've put into your website. In reading the mission statement, I got the distinct impression (which may be wrong) that the BEST way to arrive at any form of truth is through a scientific method/hypothesis-experiment-conclusion-sort of approach. If this is untrue, please correct me. If this is true, I have a problem with that philosophy. I started out life as a physicist, and in that field, there were scientists whose world view was every bit as dogmatic as the most zealous Jesus-freaks and Benny Hinn gathering ever brought out. To them, reality was what could be measured with one of the five senses, and no more. If one holds to that view, then there is no room left for things like: Love, Creativity, Expression, Emotion, Faith, Spirit, etc. You get the idea. To me, these things are as real - MORE real, in fact - than anything I can measure with my five senses. Is your view similar to that of my physics friends? I don't think it is, so please show me the error in my thinking.
I think the best way to arrive at a solid foundation of truth is through a scientific method approach. I don't think this leaves no room for love, creativity, expression, and emotion. Quite the contrary. I don't see any value in blind faith or a belief in spirits though. A dogmatic scientist who believes that scientific conclusions are not tentative is not a very good scientist. I can certainly agree with you there. Nor is one who doesn't believe in creativity. Finally, the same could be said for a theistic scientist who doesn't see the natural, physical basis for things like love and emotion.
P.S. I'm in the middle of the "Bible Belt" so selection for review is a primary factor. Somehow I don't think a review of The Culture of Make Believe would cut it. I've already been requested to avoid books on Math. Oh well, my primary purpose is to promote use of the library; perhaps when they get there they will select something good.
Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately, I don't know of any courses on the subject of writing book reviews. There are tons of sites out there on the subject though as well as books.
Earlier editions of the Book of Mormon
Journal of Discourses
Book of Commandments
What other really good primary sources or collection of primary sources (like Early Mormon Documents which I am glad to know exists) would you reccomend reading?
Thank you for your site.
I admit I have found your site extremely fascinating. I have always approached the controversial with eagerness and explored the opposing opinion. I have recently returned from serving a mission and am currently studying CS at BYU. I ran into your page looking for some sources for a religion paper I have been putting together for my second half of new testament class. I must commend you for such a massive site with so many collections of great insights and literature reviews. I was very interested in your personal experience and reasoning for having such a tremendous change in opinion and position with the church. Listening to your story actually comforted me greatly. I have MANY non-member friends (actually all of my best friends were non-members until the mission). I feel I am a very independent person and think I would easily separate myself from the church if I ever found it to be something which could be detrimental to me. I acknowledge that there is a definite presence of a social pressure to follow the basically prescribed "mormon way" which I am influenced by. I openly admit that, I have made many decisions because I felt that they would be the option best accepted by my family. I realize that many members may feel trapped to accept things that the church mandates. I always find myself trying to help others see the other perspective. I don't think there is anything wrong (evil) with such ideas as evolution, open-masonry to temple ordinance relations, the big-bang theory, the falsity of the Joseph Papyri or any other theory / belief which may appear controversial to the church. I think they are all sound arguments and discoveries (at least of thought) which all could benefit from analyzing. Many of such things I have learned about here at BYU. It is important for us to analyze the facts of life so we may each draw our own conclusions. I, once more, congratulate you for your ability to do just that. I do believe however that just about any discovery or conclusion can be heavily yet extremely discretely biased. All the more reason why each individual should try to obtain his or her personal conclusions as individually as possible. I have found in life that there are too many questions which cannot be resolved with the theories and explanations of men and seeking their answers from God would simply take too long – not to mention our limited ability to comprehend and intellectuality would never let us retain such a vast amount of information. However, what has convinced me in the little knowledge of the universe which I have has been the impressions and manifestations of God to me personally. I can no longer say that I doubt the existence of God although I once did. So maybe I really don't know that the Book of Abraham was really written by Abraham and preserved and delivered to Joseph Smith by an almost absurd miracle. Or maybe I will never really know the finite details of Mormon polygamy and the radically changing opinions of the church leaders or even where the temple's ceremonial procedures came from. It is impossible for us to know all the truth of what we support or live. I simply know that the church has helped me – not to find my social clique or niche in life, but to help me develop intellectually and help resolve life's problems, which we all encounter. So maybe I don't know exactly what the Book of Mormon originally looked like or where it is now. What I do know is that by reading it I have felt peace and comfort and learned from it in such a way I have been able to resolve my own problems. I don't even need to claim that it is a true book to testify that I know it has helped me personally and I believe it has truly helped others, which I have personally known. There are many great books, many of them being completely fictitious which could have such an effect. But to this day, I have found none as useful to me as the Book of Mormon. Still, I am not trying to attack your beliefs at all. I am not even defending the Book of Mormon nor the church as much as I am trying to merely explain my own semi-rational opinion.
You seem to me a very intellectual person, very focused on proving your conclusions. Keep up the good work. Maybe someday I'll see you in the afterlife when you'll realize you were just a little off or maybe that afterlife doesn't exist and you were right all along. Either way, it was great to learn from your life experiences and insights and I greatly admire your conviction in making your own conclusions.
Here are a few. Best of luck in your research.
http://www.lds-mormon.com/sotbom.shtml, http://www.lds-mormon.com/quest.shtml, http://www.lds-mormon.com/isl.shtml, http://www.lds-mormon.com/emd.shtml, http://www.lds-mormon.com/emd2.shtml, and http://www.lds-mormon.com/emd3.shtml
Which God had anything to do with their birth? Maybe I should get DNA tests done to prove that I'm the father and not some God? I do hope that if I'm not the father Zeus or Apollo turns out to be their real dad and not someone like Anubis or Horus; I wouldn't want my kids to end up jackal-headed, falcon-headed, or anything similar. ;)
Seriously though, do you believe that God is also responsible for the reproduction of bacteria? Weeds in your garden? Cockroaches? Children of rape? Living organisms don't need supernatural intervention to reproduce.
Accordingly, I no longer accept the account of the First Vision as historical fact, nor Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants as a divine revelation. The arguments of church apologists on behalf of these two beliefs simply don't withstand the scrutiny of history or logic or analysis of the contexts out of which they arose. Nevertheless, I think too many Mormons, discovering they've been taught many untruths or half-truths since their childhood, make the mistake of throwing the baby out with the bath water: i.e., assuming that everything they've been taught is false if it has any connection with Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon is an example of something that has been disparaged by too many who haven't kept up on the latest scholarship. The book seems, at first blush, to be the most likely candidate for dismissal, but recent scholarly work has increasingly silenced critics, and turned the tables on all those who dismissed it.
Which critics have been silenced by the 'latest scholarship'?
B.H. Roberts' concerns abut the book's authencity was the result of a determined scholar and man of faith daring to subject his beliefs to rigorous scholarly criticism. But B.H. Roberts would have loved to see the latest scholarly research addressing his questions. As a true, fastidiously objective intellectual, you owe it to yourself to read a book just published this year that addresses virtually every issue relating to Book of Mormon authenticity. By the Hand of Mormon--The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion was written by Terryl Givens, a professor of English at the University of Richmond. Givens is Mormon, but his book, which is published by Oxford University Press, is both objective and exhaustively researched. He's not afraid to tackle any thorny issues, and the BoM seems to survive even the most recent and sophisticated attempts to discredit it. I hope you'll review it.
Sorry, but I'm no longer interested in reading Mormon apologetics (or Mormon criticisms or anything related to Mormonism) anymore. Maybe someone else will take up your recommendation, though, and review it in the forum.
I feel that you should know that your web site was quoted in one of the sermons. The address given was http://www.2think.org/eye, which should be http://www.2think.org/eye.shtml. They quote, "Although the human eye would be a scandal if it were the result of divine deliberation, a plausible evolutionary explanation of its absurd construction can be obtained quite easily..."
Then Richard Dawkins was quoted as having said something about the eye. This was interpreted as meaning that our eye was upside-down and this explained the "imperfection" of it from the evolutionists' viewpoint. The whole argument thereafter revolved around the squids eye being an example of an non-inverted eye, and the sheer complexity of the eye as being proof of intelligent design.
Frankly it pissed me off. There were simply a bunch of stupid people (with a few exceptions) in the audience who were willing to believe anything that this man threw out.
During the Q/A session afterwards I tried to deliver a few burning questions. In the end I think all his double-talk, a religious rhetoric pleased the crowd enough for them to have forgotten the original question. However, he did admit, in front of the audience that continental drift occurs at one mile a year. The sad thing is, I was probably the only person in the audience that knew what a crock of shit that was.
Why do I care that people know the truth?
Thanks for the info.
You probably care because you don't want to live in a world full of ignorance.
http://www.sltrib.com/10052002/FullSurvey.pdf (Warning! The file is about 3Meg in size and will take several minutes to download even with a fast connection.)
Dear Bro. Lindsey,
...I am impressed that your web pages dig into issues that most LDS people don't even acknowledge exist, let alone research. However I must admit, I currently wish I was still among the naive, as these issues are currently weighing very heavily on my mind.
Several months ago, I began working with a friend who was a lifelong member of the Jehovah's Witness church. We spent a couple of hours a day on the train commuting to and from work, and this gave us an opportunity to discuss and contrast doctrinal matters. We got into some pretty heated debates during these discussions. Eventually, I began researching various ex-Jehovah Witness web sites to help me get a better understanding of what some of the controversial issues are in the religion and how to attack it from a logical perspective. I realize that this isn't really a good Christian thing to do, but I think it was fun for both of us to debate. I am a fairly skilled debater, and I would frequently back him into logical corners from which he could not escape. Through the course of my research, I became convinced that the Jehovah's Witness church is basically a cult that employs various psychological techniques to convert and maintain their members. There are multiple false prophesies, internal organizational conflicts, and false doctrines that lend support to the argument against the JWs.
However, after presenting various logical arguments to my friend over the course of time, I realized that he would never accept the validity of these arguments, no matter how convincing the evidence is. His mind prevents him from objectively analyzing factual information. His mind is trained to "stop short" of doubting the Watchtower organization. The truth, that he has placed all his security and trust in a false religion, is too devastating for his mind to consider. Furthermore, his mind is unable to conceive of any possible alternative way of thinking. So what does this have to do with anything you might ask?
Well, through this course of investigation, I began to analyze my own attitudes and beliefs. In reading about the techniques employed by the Jehovah Witnesses, I noticed some striking similarity to some of the methods we use as members of the LDS church. I also noticed that many of the members of the church, including myself, seem to also reject the weight of all the logical arguments arrayed against the church. When I began to see myself in my friend, this troubled me greatly because I was already convinced that he was deluded and deceived. Was I also deceived?
During the course of my internet research on JWs, I would also frequently run into anti-Mormon websites. As you know, there are numerous websites devoted to debunking both Mormons and JWs on the same site. At first I tried to avoid reading anti-Mormon sites, but eventually curiosity got the best of me. Most of what I read on these pages was not totally new to me. I've heard most of the arguments against Mormonism before, but mostly in the context of classes at BYU in which the controversial subjects are being addressed in controlled environments by faithful professors... However, some of the arguments I read on these websites began to seem very plausible, especially in the light of my recent debunking of the JW religion...
[Cut out long discussion on problems with the Book of Abraham]
I'm also troubled by research into the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar book and the speculation that this shows how Joseph incorrectly interpreted various symbols from the papyrus. I have also read your response to this, but it doesn't seem very plausible that this document was not used in some way for the purpose of translating this book. When I see evidence like this, I'm reminded of the clear evidence that I showed my JW friend, only to have him reject it with some kind of implausible, incredible explanation.
I also have various other issues that I find troubling (e.g., Temple ordinance and 19th century Masons and the 1990 changes to these ordinances that my father told me about, conflicting versions of the first vision, etc.)
...I loved my life, my testimony, my faith. Everything seemed so clear and simple. Now everything seems so clouded and confused. Are these the same fears that my JW friend had to flee from every time I confronted him with direct evidence?