Sunday, October 6, 2013


"It is wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true."
--Dallin H. Oaks (Mormon Apostle)

"Some things which are true are not very useful."
--Boyd K. Packer (Mormon Apostle)

So, this weekend is the General Conference of the Mormon Church. A talk was given this morning by a Mormon Apostle, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, which caused many faithful Mormons to go straight to their Facebook accounts (or blogs) and post comments and quotes from the talk, such as:

"Can't love Elder Uchtdorf's compassionate and nonjudgemental talk enough."

“Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended, or lazy, or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations. Some of our dear members struggle for years with the question of whether they should separate themselves from the Church. In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly that it was restored by a young man that had questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth.”

"If you seek truth, meaning, and a way to transform faith into action, if you are looking for a place of belonging, come, join with us. If you have left the faith you once embraced, come back again. Join with us. If you are tempted to give up, stay yet a little longer. There is room for you here."

To those who are currently struggling with doubts about the Church, this admonition may very well seem positive and encouraging. This may even help some come back to the Church. But I have a few problems with what Mr Uchtdorf said (surprise!).

But first, if he really is so concerned about those with doubts, shouldn't he provide reliable, credible sources for people to investigate and resolve their concerns? All he does, really, is acknowledge that legitimate concerns exist. In no way does he even attempt to address these concerns or provide a way for doubters to address their concerns on their own.

Next, he followed the above quote with this bit of "logic":

"Sometimes questions arise because we simply don't have all the information, and we just need a bit more patience. When the entire truth is eventually known, things that didn't make sense to us before will be resolved to our satisfaction."

In other words, "We may not know how it all fits together now, but the Church is true, therefore there must be a reasonable, rational explanation. We just shouldn't jump to the conclusion that the Church isn't true before we get that explanation which resolves everything."

Not only have I addressed this type of reasoning in other posts, but it is rather ironic that he should be suggesting such a skeptical and moderate view with regards to doubts when he represents an organization which tells people to accept as true things for which they do not have evidence, simply because they pray and have faith that they are true.

It is interesting that he does not admonish doubters to use this same method of seeking truth and knowledge concerning issues of Church History, Joseph Smith's translation capabilities outside of the Book of Mormon, Jewish DNA in Native Americans, the utter lack of archaeological support for the Book of Mormon, or anything else Mormon apologists have been wrestling with for decades. It seems that in matters of fact and evidence, it is best not to pester god with prayer. He's probably busy watching 5 million children under the age of 5 die of starvation this year...

Next up, this little nugget of "wisdom":

"Doubt your doubt before you doubt your faith."

This was a popular phrase passed around by some of my Mormon friends on Facebook. It carries the sound of poignancy and wit, without actually possessing either. As philosopher Daniel Dennett would describe it, it is a "deepity", meaning it sounds deep and meaningful on the surface, but lacks any real substance upon close inspection.

What Mr Uchtdorf would have you, the doubter, do is to continue believing despite your doubts. Again, he offers no way to legitimately resolve your concerns, and seems to suggest that your faith should be enough to override any concerns you may have. Meaning, "The Church is true, therefore your questions are invalid or in error." This is as absurd as it is dishonest.

And what about those, such as myself, whose primary doubt is the very nature, reliability and veracity of faith? How is faith a path to knowledge? Isn't believing something to be true without evidence to support it intellectually lazy? How is faith a virtue?

Personally, I am less concerned with the historical problems of Mormonism. When I was a believer, I was much like Mr Uchtdorf in that I had unresolved questions, but I told myself that an explanation must exist because the Church is true. I was more or less fine with the fact that I didn't know how everything worked out because I had faith that everything must and would work out once god endowed us with the proper understanding. This never happened for me, and I have yet to hear of it ever happening to anyone else.

Once I left the Church, based primarily on the idea that faith is not a path to knowledge, I was finally able to relish all of the anachronisms and historical issues of Mormonism.


Here is Mr Uchtdorf's full talk:

YouTuber Flackerman addresses "following the Prophet":

Flackerman also addresses the current method of resolving concerns about Mormonism (repost):

And one of my personal favorites "Top 10 Mormon Problems Explained":

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