Wednesday, September 19, 2012


"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."

Mormons, like Scientologists, love their celebrity members. The Osmond Family, Gladys Knight, Steve Young, Mitt Romney, Jon Heder and now Brandon Flowers (more on him later) are often lauded by Mormons as Pillars of their faith. Scientologists actively seek out celebrities for this very purpose as if to say "See, we are too a real religion." Mormons do tend to be more subtle about their public figures, but will rarely miss an opportunity to point them out.

I suppose this is natural. Celebrities bring a face of normalcy and mainstream acceptance to organizations. Just look at PETA. It is sad, though, when people rely on the fame of others as an argument in their favor. Fame is not an argument. Many famous people are wrong about a great many things. Again, just look at PETA... This doesn't even qualify as an argument from authority (a logical fallacy), since celebrities are rarely authorities on much of anything. And why would they be? Would you expect someone like NFL quarterback Steve Young to be an expert on Mormon history?

Famous Mormons often find themselves barraged by inquiries about their faith. Most of them say they are comfortable with this, which is likely due to the proselytizing culture within the Church. Most Mormon men have been missionaries; every first Sunday of the month members are encouraged to give their testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the Church; members are often challenged by Sunday School Teachers to tell their non-Mormon friends and family about the Church. All of this brings upon the members an expectation to be fairly familiar with the Church's teachings and why they believe. And this is commendable.

I think every member of the Mormon Church should do a thorough examination and study of the Church's history and teachings. The problem, though, is that the few people who actually take on this task usually limit their study to Mormon sources. They refuse to examine or even acknowledge so-called "anti-Mormon" literature. They dismiss it as fraudulent misinformation or taking things out of context and coming to the wrong conclusion.

This type of spin reminds me of a time when someone told me in a conversation about religion and atheism that I was over-analyzing the religious side and thinking too much. Really? Thinking too much? How much thinking is too much? How much thinking is not enough? Should I just assume that the "right amount" of thinking is the amount which favors your point of view? This is a digression.

The point is, when people are cornered or forced to think critically about their beliefs they tend to get defensive. This brings us to Brandon Flowers, who recently appeared on a Norwegian TV show to promote his band (The Killers) and their upcoming album. Before you watch the clip below you should know that Flowers did not expect to have a religious debate on the air. Also, before you accuse Richard Dawkins of "ambushing" Flowers with some tough theological questions, you should know that Dawkins expected to have a debate with a proper theologian. In fact, once Dawkins realized that the producers has misinformed both he and Flowers about the show and that he had put the unprepared Flowers on the spot, he promptly apologized to Flowers and shook his hand.

So, what do you think? Did Dawkins "ambush" Flowers as this article from Deseret News would have you believe? Did the slightly flustered Flowers offer any valid reasons for holding his belief? Part-way through Flowers's response to Dawkins he refers to a quote from Mormon apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, which I addressed in another post a few weeks ago. Do you agree that the Book of Mormon "still stands" today, despite being analyzed and dissected by scholars for 170+ years? Would this same logic apply to the Torah, the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, or Aesop's Fables? And, perhaps most importantly, do you think Brandon Flowers was justifiably "offended" by the criticisms of Mormonism offered by Richard Dawkins?


Here is the rest of the interview with Richard Dawkins.

And for those interested in keeping score, here is a video of famous atheists:

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