Friday, February 24, 2006

Joseph Smith. Lunatic or Charlatan?

Mormonism is not true. Late one evening after many years of being a former -or ex-Mormon- I realised precisely why Mormonism is not true.

The reason that Mormonism, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not true, is because it is not true. It really is as simple as that.

But there are many Indications as to how and why the Mormon Church, by its history and practices, proves itself to be untrue. Which is, of course, a different matter.

It may be helpful at this juncture to touch upon some of the points within my own personal journey from Mormonism. A journey that has taken me from the false doctrines of Mormonism to the true doctrines of Christianity.

There are a number of reasons why I decided I did not and will not- believe in Mormonism. I will take time to outline some of them.

So many church officials are self-serving, hypocritical and venal. Why is this important? For a church claiming to be the only true church, why does it select people to be bishops, branch presidents, etc., who are not merely flawed but in some instances, touching on evil?

The Mormon Church expects it's members to obey rules that are nonsensical at best and at worst, cruel. For example, it is now known that tea is beneficial to the heart and coffee (not merely caffeine, it must be pointed out) is more effective in dealing with the symptoms of ‘flu than aspirin. How can this be squared with the word of wisdom?

In the New Testament (through Paul) God tells us that "all things were clean" and fit to be eaten, where does the Word of Wisdom fit in here?

Then there is the rather more serious matter of the racism in much of the teaching of Brigham Young and more recent leaders. Why have some Mormon General Authorities (for example, Mark E. Petersen) made speeches that made them appear to be racist bigots? Are we to assume that perhaps they were racist bigots?

General Authorities have mocked and derided people who are trying to do good, but who are not Mormons. I have heard this at conferences, so have personal knowledge of this.

Mormonism arrests the development of young adults, possibly deliberately. When I was an official in the Young Adults I was supposed to direct young adults (I.E. over 18) to follow church approved cultural activities. These suggested buying as much candy as one could for a dollar, having a full dress dinner on a flatbed truck, blocking drains -likely to be an illegal act, one must realise- to play with paper boats. The other recommended activities all equally as childish.

Some people have been given carte blanche to “fleece” fellow Mormons by producing tapes, books and junk of no religious value, selling them at greatly inflated prices.

For example all Mormons must have heard the extremely low quality tapes of mediocre homilies passed off as great religious truths; all sold at extortionate prices. How many people would have bought the books and tapes by Paul H. Dunn, had they known that Mr. Dunn had been nothing all his life but a scheming, dishonest liar?

It is well known that every one of the stories that Mr Dunn told that showed how heroic or wonderful he was, were either greatly exaggerated or total inventions of his fertile imagination.

Although the first Mormon missionaries travelled to foreign lands in the early days of the church, it acts as if everywhere in the world (even those of vastly different cultures) were merely "downtown Salt Lake City." Some of the errors made were so breathtaking in their ability to cause gross offence that one must wonder at any claims to leadership, inspired or otherwise.

For example, in 1976 it was decided all Mormon congregations would celebrate the American Bicentennial. A puzzling combination of church and state, one might argue.

But whilst it was conceited to expect the rest of the world to mark this anniversary, it was highly insensitive, or a “calculated insult” to make the congregations of British Mormons sing a song praising the British defeat in the American War of Independence. Especially as the song used the same tune as the British National Anthem! No explanation was made for this extraordinary action. Nor any apology ever offered for this cynical assault on the sensibilities on British Mormons.

The Mormon Church propounded many articles of faith and “laws of God” that it openly flouts. If the Mormon Church does not even bother to follow it's own teachings, so why should anyone else?

Incidentally, there is a curious fact about the Mormon Church that no faithful Mormon seems to have even considered or addressed in any serious degree.

Nobody who has a testimony of the Book of Mormon being the Word of God could be a member of the Mormon Church. In the Book of Mormon it clearly preaches against bigamous marriages and against “secret combinations”. It would seem that this would forbid "plural marriage" and the Mormon temple ceremonies.

Mormons believe that "plural marriage" and blood sacrifices of living animals will be re-introduced. With the Mormon Presidential habit of suddenly changing established fundamental principals, it could be any time in the future.

Some Mormons view the prospect of the re-introduction of plural marriage with something like joy. I will never forget the disgust I felt when a Mormon “husband” was talking with obvious glee about the re-introduction of plural marriage.”

Whilst he was talking about this in an extremely insensitive fashion in front of his wife, I looked at her. I remember the expression of utter, abject misery on the face of his poor, downtrodden wife. She was still a young woman, but the strain of having six children in very rapid succession had left her physically and mentally worn out and aged far beyond her tender years.

Being a “good Mormon” her husband spent more of his time in pointless church meetings, rather than being at home with his wife and young family. I began to consider the possibility that some Mormons use the excuse of church meetings as ways to avoid dealing with their family responsibilities.

Many Mormons say: "It is the people, not the church. Besides, bad things happen in other churches, too.” That may well be so. But how could they happen in the only true church? How could these abuses have become institutionalised? In many cases a part of the fabric of that church?

Presumably if Mormons use this defence: “The same thing happens in other churches”- they are acknowledging that the Mormon Church is no better, or worse, than other churches! Therefore, they deny the very special, sacred roots the founders of the Mormon Church claimed for the church they created.

Thus, some Mormons who seem to be faithful, by their actions, appear to doubt the special claims their church makes for itself. How many of these, we must wonder, are actually in high leadership positions in the Mormon Church?

Why, when church officials break church laws, it is the whistleblowers who are punished?

Mormon leaders have chosen to break laws of the land in order to protect the reputation of the church. Paradoxically the cover-ups have often been discovered and made a bad situation worse. I will deal with a specific example later.

The Mormon Church does not like bad news about itself. The situation is, when they hear a knocking at the door, they open the door, take the message, read it and then shoot the messenger and shut the door on the corpse. If anyone inside the building says: "Who was that?" they are told; "Doesn't matter. Message couldn't have been for us. We are perfect and we are God’s chosen people."

Let us re-examine this canard, "It's not the church, it's the people."

That is not true! It would appear some of the people (the chosen) are allowed to do what they want. They are the leadership. Everyone else must follow the rules.

For example, Smith was known to drink alcohol whilst preaching a doctrine of abstinence to his faithful followers. The introduction of the Word of Wisdom must be seen in context. Many sects and non-sectarian organisations at that time were putting forward a number of “food fad” bans, edicts and warnings. Originally, the Mormon Church used wine in the sacrament ceremony. This was replaced by water due to the agitation by temperance fanatics such as (according to Fawn M. Brodie) Sidney Rigdon.

Coffee and tea were fulminated against long before Smith introduced the Word of Wisdom. The introduction of the Word of Wisdom was, in all probability, merely an example of his “Jackdaw tendencies” being given full reign.

From being a rather open and friendly organisation, the Mormon Church re-invented itself as a fanatical temperance church in order to fit in with prevailing social conditions.

This is not the only time the Mormon Church has launched a fundamental re-invention. I will deal with this subject later.

There are always a number of stories "doing the rounds" in the Mormon Church. Some are about terrible punishments rained down on Mormons who inadvertently transgressed the laws of the church. Others involved stories of miraculous events, etc. I recall one story which claims the Book of Mormon had been proven beyond doubt by the fact that places in South America still bore Book of Mormon names.

These are known by the sobriquet “Faith Promoting Rumour.”

I prefer a term of my own: “Faith Promoting Lie.” Because it transpires that all of the stories were, without exception outright lies. They seem to have a parallel with the more ridiculous stories involving Mediaeval saints. However, the Mormon Church was the true church, the Mediaeval church "apostate" and therefore, untrue…

Church authorities must be aware these stories were lies. Yet they are happy to allow these lies to continue to be told and re-told as if they were true. Some of them are used in Sacrament meetings and church lessons all over the world.

By a general attitude of calculated indifference, the leadership Mormon Church encourages an air of hypocrisy in the membership.

For example, if a Catholic said to a Mormon; "I am no longer a Catholic, due to the fact that a priest abused a child" I expect the Mormon might say; "Quite right, too."

However, if a fellow Mormon told him he was no longer a Mormon because a Mormon bishop had abused a child the reaction would be; "Your own faith should be stronger. Are you going to allow what one person did to damage your future in the Celestial Kingdom? Etc., Etc."

Several years ago in Britain, a Mormon bishop was told by some distraught Mormon parents that their child, had been subjected to “serious and persistent” sexual abuse by a leading and prominent member of the ward.

The Bishop interviewed him and he tearfully confessed, "repented" and promised not to sexually abuse children again. The bishop decided the only action required was to ensure he would not be involved in activities with children in the future. He ordered the parents not to go to the police as he, their Bishop, had dealt with it.

In effect the Mormon Bishop had created a licensed pederast.

The man was a “ticking bomb” waiting to explode! The inevitable happened. He sexually assaulted other Mormon children. Thank God the parents of one child decided not to heed the orders of their bishop. They went to the police.

During the trial the conniving guile and duplicity of the Mormon Bishop became known. The judge was heavily critical of him, wondering how he could square his duty as a religious leader to the fact that he had, by his actions, allowed this child molester to go free to sexually abuse and harm more children. The media was equally scathing. With justice, it has to be added.

With sickening irony the Mormon bishop was revealed to be a police sergeant in the force that investigated the abuse of the children. So much for his oath to “uphold the laws of the Queen” and his promises to “obey the laws of the land in the "Articles of Faith."”

In his overwhelming desire to protect the good name of the Mormon church, he took upon himself the right to decide who should be punished or, as in this case, not punished. He took the decision to put the lives of young children at risk. All for the good of his beloved church. In so doing, he proved himself to be a “wicked” man.

How strange that this Bishop chose to ignore the remarks of Jesus Christ about people who abuse Children. (Please see references to this in Matt. 18.6. This was also copied in the Doctrine and Covenants, 121: 19-22, although here the meaning seems to have been twisted to suit another purpose of Smith.)

His actions caused the ruin of more young lives. I know of cases in which people have been excommunicated for reporting serious transgressions of leaders of the church (shoot the messenger, ignore the message) yet paedophiles are allowed to go unpunished.

I know of Mormons who were excommunicated for having sex whilst not married. Yet a Bishop kept a paedophile safe from prosecution! By his actions he connived at allowing the paedophile to abuse more children.

How can this be? “Motes and beams” are covered by Jesus Christ in the New Testament. It seems a perversion that an organisation that boasts of using the name of Jesus Christ to assume that such warnings only apply to other churches and not them.

Whilst I was a Mormon I began to realise that there were far too many Mormons in the Mormon Church. But not nearly enough Christians.

Whilst there are good points in having an entirely voluntary unpaid ministry in a church, the fact that the hierarchy of the Mormon church being home to many men who have serious flaws (such as the above Bishop) points to problems with this.

Some pronouncements by "General Authorities" I heard, have been mind numbingly stupid, irreligious, offensive and morally unsupportable.

The LDS church is very controlling. In the United Kingdom the welfare programme banned Bishops from allowing those members participating in the church welfare system from being allowed to have Kellogg’s Corn Flakes supplied to them.

Apparently the General Authority in charge of the programme decreed that, because corn flakes contained added vitamins they were not to be eaten by the “saints”.

When the church realised it had introduced the welfare programme in a period of a particularly vicious recession and that it was costing more to operate than it had been expected, the welfare programme in Britain (introduced with much publicity in the UK press and media was very quickly and ruthlessly dismantled.

However, this was undertaken with no notification to the UK press and media. Unlike when they had introduced that programme not long before.

Members who had relied on the church for food and help with bills (in return for substantial work commitments, it has to be noted) were ordered to approach the state for benefits, instead.

The church welfare system in Britain since that time is a rump service and nothing like the service boasted of in church publications and apparently only available to the “saints” in the USA.

The Mormon Church claims (or certainly claimed at one time) to be the only Church to used the name of Jesus Christ. This was a canard. Not even close to the truth. This made me realise all was not right with the Mormon church when I was about 16 years old.

Strange though this point may seem, the Mormon Church is too pragmatic to be true.

"You don't like our bigamous marriages? We'll stop them!"

"We are racist? We'll stop our racist policies straight away! And we will ensure the racist rantings -sorry! Writings- of dearly beloved leaders and General Authorities such as Brigham Young and Mark E. Petersen are buried very, very deep in church archives so that members will not have to bother their pretty little heads about these teachings.”

The Mormon Church, aka The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is reportedly trying to re-brand itself. A suggestion, apparently from within their bureaucracy, is that the church could re-name itself The Church of Christ.

Apparently this is being vigorously opposed by The Church of Christ which has been using this name for many years. One might presume that many “traditional” Mormons also oppose this.

Is the mainstream Mormon church trying to follow in the footsteps of the Restored Church that has tried to disassociate itself from the worse excesses of their founder?

Incidentally, as the Mormon Church (mainstream) has a worse early history to deal with, the re-branding and re-inventing in this case would take a lot more work.

What will the next major volt face will be?

Some Mormons openly sneer at those who leave their church, alleging they are only leaving, so they can sin. Or is this a Mormon comfort blanket?

However, as Mormons believe it possible to sin by merely drinking a single cup of tea, sinning by their fanciful definition is remarkably easy. However, the D & C states that barley drinks are to be used. In the 19 century barley drinks meant beer.

"Man is that he might have joy" seems, in the Mormon Church, to have been replaced with; "Man is that he might obey."

Let us examine the claims of Smith. He claimed to have been called as a prophet of the Lord when he was at an age between 14 to 15 years of age.

However, his behaviour (both reported by others and circumspectly acknowledged by Smith) over the next 10 years, is a tale of drunkenness, wild living and evil “black” witchcraft practices which included the sacrificing of animals in the most barbaric and inhumane fashion.

The Mormon Church claims to rely on logic. Let us apply logic to the above paragraph. Does it look like the activities of a young man, chosen of the Lord to lead the church of Jesus Christ (more on this later) to re-establish the “true” church of Christ on the Earth? There is “something very wrong with this picture.”

Christians rightly condemn Mormonism for the implication that our saviour, Jesus the Christ, son of the Lord, was a failure. Jesus told his disciples the church he had founded would not falter, but would continue against all opposition.

But the very central tenet of Mormonism is that Jesus failed. And Smith succeeded. In the cannon of Mormonism, therefore, Smith is considered more important that Christ himself. This view has a basis not only in the doctrines of Mormonism, but also in statements made by Smith himself.

Smith is quoted as making the following utterances: “God is my right hand man.” God is his right hand man?

"I have more to boast about than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of *Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet." History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 408-409 (1844)

(*Despite Smith’s claim to the contrary there was no church at the time of Adam, which rather tends to negate this boastful claim.)

Was he mentally ill? To believe one is Christ or God is one thing. But to believe you are higher than God is of a different order. As far as Christians are concerned, can there be a more wicked blasphemy? I doubt it.

Thus we can see Mormonism was founded by a wicked wastrel who blasphemed against Jesus and God. Hardly, one might argue, a good, solid foundation for the creation of a sect that styles itself to be “Christian.”

There are other issues of contention. For example, a challenge issued by the Mormon Church is to request doubters to write a book similar to the book of Mormon.

Why is this a challenge? Because everyone knows that Smith was an “ignorant farm boy” and that he wrote the Book of Mormon “single-handed” in a very short period of time.

How do we know this? How do we know he was the only person who wrote the Book of Mormon? -Why, because Smith told us!

It is disingenuous to describe Smith as an “ignorant farm boy.” In this context, Mormons seem to intend the term “ignorant” and “stupid” to be, by implication, interchangeable.

They are, of course, nothing of the kind. If Smith had been ignorant, how could he learn Hebrew, as he did, after founding his church? How could he have been such a skilled leader? Does anyone really think a State governor would make Smith the ipso facto legal dictator of an independent city-state within the United States of America and to make him an officer in the State Militia, if he were clearly “stupid?” Of course not!

He was clever. In fact his obvious intelligence was commented on by a number of non-Mormons at the time. The problem is that Smith had been educated by parents that were venal and if not actually wicked, certainly completely amoral.

It is, however, possible to argue that Smith did what he did because he had been taught to be that way by his parents, who also corrupted the rest of their family.

This point bears repeating. Smith was not stupid. Far from it. But for an explanation as to why Smith sacrificed animals, hunted for gold and tried to raise devilish spirits, please consider the following analogies.

What if George Washington had been taught to be a horse thief by his family? If Einstein had been trained by his family to be a forger? Or if Stephen Hawking’s family had taught him to steal cars? They would have been just as clever, just as intelligent but their great intellects would have been wasted.

Am I claiming Smith was as intelligent as Washington, Einstein or Hawking?

Perhaps not. But we will never know for sure. However, it is possible to argue Smith had the makings of a fine, personable and highly intelligent person who could have made a significant and valuable contribution to the 19 century society of the United States of America, and perhaps the whole world.

But because his parents were intent on enriching themselves by whatever methods they could, they arguably used Satanic practices to do this. They corrupted their children and caused untold misery to millions of people, even down to this very time.

Smith thirsted for knowledge. He is credited by Mormons with writing: “The Glory of God is intelligence.” But, perhaps paradoxically, it was this thirst for knowledge that helped to lead to his downfall.

It is interesting to note that, in fact, Smith borrowed or Stole this aphorism from Cardinal Wolsey.

For example, someone mentioned to him the maxim: “Man is as God once was, God is as man may become.” Smith seized on this and used it -with his very powerful imagination- to create an entire doctrine which has ensured that Mormonism is viewed as a fraudulent outsider by mainstream Christianity ever since.

But far worse -one might argue- was the way Smith allowed Doctor John Bennett to insinuate himself into the higher echelons of the leadership of Mormonism.

It was, arguably Bennett who introduced Smith to the concept of sexual licence and debauchery cloaked by the fiction of “plural marriage” aka “Celestial Marriage.”

From examining contemporary accounts, authors such as Fawn Brodie have been able to establish that Bennett was a highly dangerous, predatory sexual libertine, who cared nothing for the damage he caused -mental and physical- to the women he sexually used and abused. It is thought his abortions caused some of his “wives” to become infertile or to die.

That Smith allowed Bennett to become so influential in the early days of Mormonism shows that Smith, in common with many people who use trickery, was a very gullible person in his own right. This gullibility, combined with his pride, self-confidence and his thirst for knowledge ultimately helped destroy him.

The entire basis of the concept of plural marriage which has lead to the prevalence of certain genetic diseases in Utah and in other enclaves of Mormonism in America and the persecution of many Mormons and the murder of Mormons (by other Mormons) who opposed it, was the desire of Bennett to have sexual intercourse with as many different women as possible, but who required some trickery to cloak his evil ways in a measure of bogus respectability.

We can also see Smith’s desire to learn behind his decision to take the Masonic ceremony and to change and corrupt this into a major platform within the Mormon church.

Many Mormons who believe the Masonic ceremonies date back to the time of Solomon’s temple, would be surprised to know the Masonic ceremonies aped by Smith, in reality only date back to the late 18th century.

They were the invention of members of the gentry who had inveigled themselves introductions to join the moribund Masonic lodges, a vestigial remain of the once proud and powerful exclusive organisation of Master Masons, started in Mediaeval times to look after the interests of Master Masons.

So the ceremonies “appropriated” by Smith were really only 150 years old at the very most when he decided to steal them -as a Jackdaw steals something bright and shiny for the nest.

This disproves that Mormonism has links between King Solomon and modern times. The blunt truth is that the Mormon temple ceremonies were the creation of a clique of aristocrats who simply wanted something a little more interesting to do other than just gathering together and drinking Port wine all evening.

The gullibility of Smith also shows through when he was deluded into attempting to translate the so-called Kinderhook plates, or when he convinced himself that he could translate Egyptian. Either that or he was of the opinion that the Egyptian language would never be translated and he would be safe from discovery.

Exactly what was Smith? A deluded person who thought he was a prophet of God? Or a sophisticated shyster who, with an equally corrupt and venal family, were able to set up a scam that still operates today?

For a more complete knowledge of who or what Joseph Smith might have been, including a list of some of the many women that he married (including some who were already married to friends of his) I can highly recommend the book “No Man Knows my History, the life of Joseph Smith.”

The second edition -revised and enlarged- published in paperback by Vintage Books (a division of Random House) is available, the ISBN is 679-73054-0 at $17.00 US or $23.00 Canadian.

The book can be bought at larger bookshops and from most online book retailers such as Amazon.

6 comments:

Sideon said...

They both apply. But more than lunatic and charlatan, the man was a criminal.

The cause of death was not martydom at the fate of an anti-mormon crowd - it was death by imploding ego.

Matt said...

Yes. Nicely spotted. It is possible for someone to be all of those and perhaps more, besides.

Travis said...

Yes, Joseph Smith was a charlatan, indeed, an outright liar and hoaxter. And, as you say, mormonism is untrue. However, while I agree with much of this essay, I find your post-mormon acceptance of Christianity as problematic at best. This affects your criticism of mormonism as well, for while you weild a sharp sword in slaying mormonism, you yourself are falling prey to the most obvious cognitive errors. This is not a criticism intended to hurt feelings or troll; it is only intended to call attention to the unreason present in modern-day religion.

I myself was raised as a mormon (in Utah), abandoning the faith when I was a freshman in high school. I was also a Christian (non-mormon) for a for a couple of years after that. My faith in Christianity dropped out when I subjected christianity to the same scrutiny as I had subjected mormonism to. This is to say, I simply asked myself - honestly - what the evidence for the general story of christianity was, and subsequently what the evidence for a creator God was at all.

Althought this is probably not the place for a huge (and likely annoying) response, I would only like to encourage that you ask yourself, straight faced, what is the evidence to vindicate the Christian account? Consider our evidence that Jesus performed miracles (a pilar of the Christian faith, you will not disagree). Well, we have one account (we have no extra-biblical account Jeuses myracles) that has been so thoroughly criticized by biblical scholars as to scarcly render the stories historically credible. I recomment the authr Bart D. Ehrman, a scholar that has ammassed a mountain of evidence against the historicity of Jesus' miracles and resurection. Just as we rightly as ourselves, 'what is the evidence that Joseph Smith was led to a set of buried golden plates by the angel Moroni?', we must also ask ourselvs, 'what is the evidence that a bronze-age carpenter walked on water or fed a whole village with a few fish?'. It is much more likely that these stories are just made up stories, having little relevance to our modern lives. This is not to say that the Bible or Torrah can't have relevance to us, indeed, there are many gems of wisdom within these books, but there are also gems of wisdom in Darwin, Einstein, and Hawking, but nobody is elevating their books as things to live by.

Further, we know that, in the twenty first century, we are more intellegent and have better access to good ideas. Just consider that the Bible as a whole--new and old testaments--defends slavery. The old Testament is, especially leviticus and deuteronomy, are utterly grotesque books. Read thme again if you don't remember the barbarity, not only allowed by God, but mandated by God.

Ultimatly, I think that we, in the twenty-first century, can do much better than religion has done in the past. We have science, modern democratic vaues, which attempt to give equal rites on everyone, and we have our own innate moral sense to guide us. In my opinion, we should put religion (most of it anyway) where it belongs, in the wastebin of historical stupidity and depravity.

Travis said...

Yes, Joseph Smith was a charlatan, indeed, an outright liar and hoaxter. And, as you say, mormonism is untrue. However, while I agree with much of this essay, I find your post-mormon acceptance of Christianity as problematic at best. This affects your criticism of mormonism as well, for while you weild a sharp sword in slaying mormonism, you yourself are falling prey to the most obvious cognitive errors. This is not a criticism intended to hurt feelings or troll; it is only intended to call attention to the unreason present in modern-day religion.

I myself was raised as a mormon (in Utah), abandoning the faith when I was a freshman in high school. I was also a Christian (non-mormon) for a for a couple of years after that. My faith in Christianity dropped out when I subjected christianity to the same scrutiny as I had subjected mormonism to. This is to say, I simply asked myself - honestly - what the evidence for the general story of christianity was, and subsequently what the evidence for a creator God was at all.

Althought this is probably not the place for a huge (and likely annoying) response, I would only like to encourage that you ask yourself, straight faced, what is the evidence to vindicate the Christian account? Consider our evidence that Jesus performed miracles (a pilar of the Christian faith, you will not disagree). Well, we have one account (we have no extra-biblical account Jeuses myracles) that has been so thoroughly criticized by biblical scholars as to scarcly render the stories historically credible. I recomment the authr Bart D. Ehrman, a scholar that has ammassed a mountain of evidence against the historicity of Jesus' miracles and resurection. Just as we rightly as ourselves, 'what is the evidence that Joseph Smith was led to a set of buried golden plates by the angel Moroni?', we must also ask ourselvs, 'what is the evidence that a bronze-age carpenter walked on water or fed a whole village with a few fish?'. It is much more likely that these stories are just made up stories, having little relevance to our modern lives. This is not to say that the Bible or Torrah can't have relevance to us, indeed, there are many gems of wisdom within these books, but there are also gems of wisdom in Darwin, Einstein, and Hawking, but nobody is elevating their books as things to live by.

Further, we know that, in the twenty first century, we are more intellegent and have better access to good ideas. Just consider that the Bible as a whole--new and old testaments--defends slavery. The old Testament is, especially leviticus and deuteronomy, are utterly grotesque books. Read thme again if you don't remember the barbarity, not only allowed by God, but mandated by God.

Ultimatly, I think that we, in the twenty-first century, can do much better than religion has done in the past. We have science, modern democratic vaues, which attempt to give equal rites on everyone, and we have our own innate moral sense to guide us. In my opinion, we should put religion (most of it anyway) where it belongs, in the wastebin of historical stupidity and depravity.

travis.c.hansen said...

Yes, Joseph Smith was a charlatan, indeed, an outright liar and hoaxter. And, as you say, mormonism is untrue. However, while I agree with much of this essay, I find your post-mormon acceptance of Christianity as problematic at best. This affects your criticism of mormonism as well, for while you weild a sharp sword in slaying mormonism, you yourself are falling prey to the most obvious cognitive errors. This is not a criticism intended to hurt feelings or troll; it is only intended to call attention to the unreason present in modern-day religion.

I myself was raised as a mormon (in Utah), abandoning the faith when I was a freshman in high school. I was also a Christian (non-mormon) for a for a couple of years after that. My faith in Christianity dropped out when I subjected christianity to the same scrutiny as I had subjected mormonism to. This is to say, I simply asked myself - honestly - what the evidence for the general story of christianity was, and subsequently what the evidence for a creator God was at all.

Althought this is probably not the place for a huge (and likely annoying) response, I would only like to encourage that you ask yourself, straight faced, what is the evidence to vindicate the Christian account? Consider our evidence that Jesus performed miracles (a pilar of the Christian faith, you will not disagree). Well, we have one account (we have no extra-biblical account Jeuses myracles) that has been so thoroughly criticized by biblical scholars as to scarcly render the stories historically credible. I recomment the authr Bart D. Ehrman, a scholar that has ammassed a mountain of evidence against the historicity of Jesus' miracles and resurection. Just as we rightly as ourselves, 'what is the evidence that Joseph Smith was led to a set of buried golden plates by the angel Moroni?', we must also ask ourselvs, 'what is the evidence that a bronze-age carpenter walked on water or fed a whole village with a few fish?'. It is much more likely that these stories are just made up stories, having little relevance to our modern lives. This is not to say that the Bible or Torrah can't have relevance to us, indeed, there are many gems of wisdom within these books, but there are also gems of wisdom in Darwin, Einstein, and Hawking, but nobody is elevating their books as things to live by.

Further, we know that, in the twenty first century, we are more intellegent and have better access to good ideas. Just consider that the Bible as a whole--new and old testaments--defends slavery. The old Testament is, especially leviticus and deuteronomy, are utterly grotesque books. Read thme again if you don't remember the barbarity, not only allowed by God, but mandated by God.

Ultimatly, I think that we, in the twenty-first century, can do much better than religion has done in the past. We have science, modern democratic vaues, which attempt to give equal rites on everyone, and we have our own innate moral sense to guide us. In my opinion, we should put religion (most of it anyway) where it belongs, in the wastebin of historical stupidity and depravity.

Suzanne said...

I am a 12 year old Mormon. I love it. Do you know someone who is a Mormon? It is very true that it is the person not the religion. Some are bad some are good. I have a lot of non-Mormon friends. They are awesome. They know I am a Mormon and still are my friends. Joseph Smith never drank alcohol. He asked some people to stop spitting tobacco all over the temple, though. Where did you find your info? By the way, Mormons are Christians because we believe in Christ. it's as simple as that. I know he died on the cross so we can repent of our sins. which I have made a lot of mistakes. Our church is not the one that is bad. It is the people making mistakes. We all do. we are human. god does not make mistakes, and he made the church. My bishop is a very humble man. He does a ton of service. One time, all the youth got together and gathered food for the food bank. I was one of them. It was raining hard, but we all had fun and laughed really hard. I know you probably think I am bluffing. It's not right to clog drains. (What were they thinking?:) But we really did do it. How do you know Joseph Smith is a lunatic? How do you know it's not true? Thanks, but think about it.