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August 28, 2007

Comments

C. L. Hanson

I wouldn't be too dismissive of the idea of "innoculating" people against the idea that God might not exist: it really does happen that people raised in sheltered religious communities are shocked and amazed by meeting an atheist and end up having their faith shaken by the experience. Of course you're right that it's not specifically a Mormon concern. It might have been a reasonable starting point if they'd gone from there to draw parallels with specific facts about Mormonism that tend to surprise people and shake their faith when they first learn them.

I can kind of see what they're shooting for in this discussion: there are cases where people give false information as part of a well-meaning strategy, and it backfires. An obvious example is telling kids that one puff of marijuana will get them hooked on drugs to the point where they're dead in the gutter from a heroin overdose within a few weeks. When the kids figure out that's not true, they don't have the appropriate information to make responsible decisions about moderate use. believing Mormons might see "innoculation" as a means of preventing this sort of problem.

I agree with you on the root of the problem though: certain aspects of Mormonism just aren't faith-promoting no matter how you slice them. When you learn the facts about the Book of Abraham (among other things) -- and it looks like the church has been hiding the truth from you -- it looks just that much worse than if the church appeared to be completely open about it. But that doesn't mean that reading an Egyptologist's translation in church would somehow make Joseph Smith's translation abilities look less questionable.

Jonathan Blake

I agree that atheism by itself is a threat to Mormon faith. I was defenseless when I heard real atheist arguments for the first time a couple of years ago. Nothing in Mormon thought or scripture helped me out much. All I could find was the fairly lame "all things denote that there is a God" and a just have faith attitude.

If atheist arguments gain a higher profile, I think you'll see more people losing faith in Mormonism.

mel

Jonathan,

Heh, exactly. Not to mention that the best examples of so-called atheism in the book of mormon are complete fuckin' idiots with a summing argument of: "There is no god ... oops, yeah you're right. The devil made me do it. Where's the closest tapir cart? I need to get run over."

dpc

Atheism is no threat to Mormonism, just like it isn’t a threat to any other religion. No logical argument can lead one to believe in God or not believe in God. It’s free agency at its best (or its worst, depending on what you believe). Most people believe in God based on experiences which they attribute to the divine. You can argue that such experiences are not divine, but it’s a tough argument to make because the arguer hasn’t actually experienced the other’s spiritual experience. It’s the same as telling someone that they don’t feel bored because there is no good reason (in your estimation) for that person to be bored.

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